Liong Sik’s status  as  Transport Minister  completely untenable especially   after the MCA leadership changes last Friday which  established new MCA and Barisan Nasional precedents with far-reaching implications about the political marginalization of MCA

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaMonday): On 6th February this year, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad made three points about the Cabinet, viz:  

  • That there will not be any Cabinet reshuffle before he steps down in October;
  • there is no need for the Cabinet to resign with him when he retires; and
  • the position of MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk  Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik  who had tendered an undated letter of resignation last August 15 to Mahathir is to be decided by Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he takes over the country’s leadership.



Mahathir’s position on the first and third points now  appear less certain after the  MCA leadership changes on Friday, especially after the new MCA President, Datuk Ong Ka Ting had made a special trip to Langkawi yesterday to thank Mahathir for “accepting” his leadership of MCA.


From Saturday’s  non-committal statement that he would look into the status of Ling as Cabinet Minister, he has gone a step further yesterday and made a broader “hint” of a Cabinet reshuffle after the MCA leadership changes after his meeting with Ong. 

In actual fact, Ling’s  status  as  Transport Minister is completely  untenable especially   after the  MCA leadership changes last Friday which  established new MCA and Barisan Nasional precedents with far-reaching implications about the political marginalization of MCA  

Mahathir had expressed the hope that the leadership changes would bring back unity to MCA, with no two MCAs, Team A and Team B.  Observers are asking whether instead of MCA A and B Teams, there will emerge one MCA “U” Team, especially after the unprecedented leadership MCA changes where for the first time in its 54-year history, MCA’s new leaders were directly the  result of “Big Brother” intervention.


The 1983-1985 MCA crisis had seen  “Big Brother” intervention, but it was confined to mediation  to ensure that the MCA leadership crisis was resolved through party elections by the will of the MCA delegates.  Friday’s MCA leadership changes took  such “Big Brother” intervention past the line of mediation into the  completely new territory of  usurping  the powers of the MCA delegates to  decide on its own leadership by spelling out who should be the new top leaders of MCA.


For the past ten days, MCA Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and  MPs, whether A or B team, have been irresponsibly silent about the injustices of this year’s university student intake   based on  an entrance selection system which is “meritocracy” only  in  name but not in substance.


For the past two years of the “meritocracy” system, the breakdown of university student  intake into the public universities (without taking into account some 10,000 places a year in public universities   exclusively reserved for bumiputera students) are as follows:

                   Bumiputra        Chinese               Indian       Total

2002            68.7%             26.4%                   4.7%       100%

2003         62.6%            32.2%               5.2%       100%

What do  these figures reveal? Are they saying that non-bumiputera students are losing out in a system of meritocracy and  would need the protection of a quota system of 55:35:10 reserving places respectively for bumiputera, Chinese and Indians students if they are  to get a better deal in admissions into the public universities?

Should the Cabinet be deciding whether to revert  to the old quota system of 55:35:10, and ensure  that the quota system is strictly adhered to without deviations as had happened in the three decades of its operation, for the non-bumiputera students to get a better deal in university admissions?

Or should the Cabinet be ending the farce of a “meritocracy system without merit” and introduce a  genuine  system of merit which is race-blind,  competitive and based on a common university entrance examination but  takes into account factors of socio-economic equity?

Unfortunately, there is a total dearth of discussion or even concern in the Cabinet on these grave issues as, among other things, MCA Ministers have neither the head nor the heart to articulate the injustices of the system of “meritocracy without merit” let alone demand the introduction of a fair, equitable and competitive system of university admissions.

UMNO Secretary-General and Information Minister, Tan Sri Khalil Yaakob at least acknowledged the unfairness of such education policies when he warned the UMNO Education Convention 2003 yesterday that education issues would be used widely by the Opposition to win the people’s support in the coming general election, while declaring that  non-Malays not satisfied with the government’s education policies could go overseas for their further studies.  (Sin Chew Daily) 

The new MCA President should lead the MCA Ministers to tell the Cabinet on Wednesday that such an attitude is most unfair and unacceptable, as the non-Malays are both  taxpayers and citizens and have the right to expect fair education policies, including a just, competitive and genuinely meritorious university entrance examination system in the interests not only of the students and all communities but also of the country in enhancing Malaysia’s international competitiveness for the nation’s  development and prosperity.

Can the MCA after the new leadership changes last Friday pass the first leadership test in the Cabinet on Wednesday to ensure firstly, that the thousands who should have been admitted into the public universities this year under a genuine system of meritocracy are given places; and secondly, to  end the farce and charade of a “meritocracy system without merit” for public university admissions and introduce  a common university entrance examination for all students, coupled with a formula giving 80% places based on merit and 20% on needs.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman