Great disappointment if MIC backs off from getting Cabinet approval for suspension of MMC derecognition of CSMU medical degrees as a result of Sothinathan’s three-month suspension as Deputy Minister

Media Conference
by Lim Kit Siang

(Parliament, Thursday):  It would be most unfortunate and a great disappointment if MIC backs off from getting Cabinet approval for suspension of Malaysian Medical Council (MMC} derecognition of Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) medical degrees as a result of S. Sothinathan’s three-month suspension as Deputy Minister. 

Two days after last Thursday’s  announcement by the MMC President, Datuk Dr Mohamed Ismail Merican withdrawing recognition of the medical undergraduate programme offered by CSMU to students registered and admitted into academic year one after Dec 31, 2005, MIC President and Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, ticked off MMC and accused it  of trying to stop Indians from becoming doctors since there were about 800 Malaysian Indians studying at CSMU and other universities in Russia.  He also said that he would raise the issue at the Cabinet meeting to get it rectified. 

However, Samy Vellu did not raise the CSMU medical degrees issue in the Cabinet yesterday after the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi exercised his prerogative to suspend the MIC Secretary-General as Deputy Minister for three months with immediate effect. 

Sothinathan’s three-month suspension as Deputy Minister for pointing out that the Deputy Health Minister, Datuk Dr. Abdul Latiff Ahmad, was not telling the truth when replying to  my emergency motion on the MMC derecognition of CSMU medical degrees on Tuesday is most unfair and unjust, but if this leads to MIC backing off from securing justice and fair play for thousands of Malaysian students studying or intending to pursue medical studies in CSMU, it would be an even greater injustice! 

Samy Vellu should make a clear distinction between the two cases, viz. the suspension of Sothinathan as Deputy Minister and the suspension of MMC derecognition of CSMU medical degrees, and not entertain any idea to secure the lifting of Sothinathan’s suspension at the expense of justice and fair play on the recognition of the CSMU medical degrees issue. 

I thank the Minister for Higher Education, Datuk Shafie Salleh for his prompt response to my call yesterday for a full statement on the shocking disclosure by the Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr. Abdul Latif Ahmad in Parliament on Tuesday that  Arts-stream students who had failed their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) were among those accepted by CSMU and that they had apparently managed to obtain no-objection letters from the Higher Education Ministry to pursue the medical course despite their lack of qualifications.  

Shafie confirmed that his Ministry had issued Non-Objection Certificates (NOCs) to Arts stream students who failed their SPM to gain entry into CSMU “to realize their dreams of becoming doctors”, as an NOC is a prerequisite for entry into any university abroad offering medical courses recognized by the Government. 

New Straits Times reported Shafie as saying: 

"According to Higher Education Department director Professor Datuk Dr Hassan Said, whom I met this morning, these students were issued with NOCs although they failed their SPM.

"This was because they had additional certificates that carried more weight or were equivalent to the SPM."

He said the "additional certificates" were among those awarded to students who passed the SPM Mathematics and Bahasa Melayu papers in July after having failed in the subjects previously.

I find Shafie’s explanation most shocking and totally unsatisfactory, reflecting most adversely on the professionalism and competence of the Higher Education Ministry, and how unfair it is now for the MMC or the Health Ministry to blame the  CSMU for the abuse of the
 Cabinet directive of August 2003 requiring  “No Objection Letters” to be issued to  students to pursue medical studies in Crimea State Medical University or other overseas destinations.  

Shafie should come to Parliament to make a Ministerial statement giving all details of the shocking way his Ministry had implemented the Cabinet decision  and issued the NOCs, which are clearly an abuse, evasion and violation of the Cabinet directive. 



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman