Without A Common Examination System For Entry Into Universities, Meritocracy Will Still Remain The Quota System In Disguise

Press Statement

Lim Guan Eng

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): Higher Education Ministry’s claims that entrance to Malaysian universities is based on meritocracy will not have any credibility so long as there is no common examination system for all students. Meritocracy will remain a quota system in disguise if the majority of students from one community takes a different examination from a different set of students.

This was highlighted by this year and previous year’s results of entrance to universities especially on critical courses such as medicine, law and dentistry. Higher Education Management Department director-general Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Said said of the 910 places for medicine, 595 went to students with a CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) of 4.0.  The number of STPM holders with 4As and 5As was 362, a drop of more than 50% compared to the 767 the year before. However, matriculation students with a CGPA of 4.0 last year was 1,247, compared to 1,263 this year. 

By allowing two different set of examinations tailored for two different set of students is discriminatory if the degree of difficulty is different. Not only students but academics have asserted that of the two examinations, the matriculation exam is the easier of the two. This is unfair and unjustly penalizes students taking STPM. This may explain why there was more than 50% drop in STPM top scholars with 4As and 5As from 767 last year to 362 this year whilst matriculation top scholars remained almost unchanged at 1,247 from the previous year’s 1,263.

For the government, MCA, Gerakan and MIC leaders to turn a blind eye and pretend that both exams are comparable and of similar standard is not only an exercise in self-deception but a travesty of justice. Malaysian students regardless of race and religion can compete on an equal footing provided the government believes in our students’ abilities and after almost 50 years of providing opportunities to previously disadvantaged students.

The time has come for a common examination to ensure that the undisputed top scholars are given the critical courses like medicine to make their contributions to the country. Even though discrimination many not be direct, indirect discrimination in disguise is just as effective in denying top students their rightful places in public universities.

Such policies have resulted in a severe brain drain of our top talents that benefit no one except our neighbouring countries. One need not go very far by going to Singapore to see that nearly 50% of doctors in Singapore government hospitals are Malaysians.

DAP urges the government to move away from politicizing or racialising education but move towards democratizing education to give equal opportunities to all deserving students to ensure that we do not lose our best brains to foreign countries. Only a common examination can restore confidence in the integrity and standards of our education system. 


*  Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General