We call on the Prime Minister to reconsider replacing the National Education Review Committee with the Royal Commission, enquiring into all aspects of education

DAP Kulai Dinner
Dr Tan Seng Giaw

(Kuala Lumpur, Saturday): Malaysia needs a good educational system, giving equal opportunities to the citizens from pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary to life-long education. We still have a very long way to go.

Each year, the federal budget allocates about 24% of the total expenditure to education such as over RM26 billion for 2003. We hope that the Government makes effective use of the allocation. But then, Malaysian education has many weaknesses. If these weaknesses persist, we have difficulty in coping with further globalization.

On 29 November, 2002, Umno Supreme Council appointed Dato¡¯ Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad to head the National Education Review Committee. Umno thinks that Dr Mahathir is the most appropriate. Before the Cabinet makes the decision, Barisan Nasional component party leaders have promised to take part in the committee.

Dr Mahathir goes off in October, 2003. He has less than 11 months to complete the work of the committee. The duration is too short and the committee has limited powers. He has difficulty tackling various obstacles.

For example, the Prime Minister used to advocate assimilation and one-stream education. In the last few years, he has changed his mind. Instead, he stresses integration as he did in Kuching two days ago. (He has not mentioned bangsa Malaysia in the media lately). But, the Education Ministry is basically mono-ethnic. Then, how do we talk about integration?

Before, non-Bumiputeras dominated nursing. Now, bumiputeras have taken over. In the first-year diploma course in the University Kebangsaan Malaysia, there are 178 students with two Chinese and seven Indians, 102 second-year with three Indians and no Chinese and 96 third-year with three Indians and no Chinese. Out of the 22 degree students, two are Chinese but no Indian. There are 11 students in the Advanced Midwifery Course with two Chinese and no Indian. There are many factors causing mono-ethnicity.


* Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Vice-Chairman and MP for Kepong