Politicians and Zealots Are the Main Culprits For Malaysian Education Decay

Khoo Kay Peng

I had spoken to a number of local CEOs on their recruitment and manpower dilemma. A local CEO told me that he would hire anyone with “a pulse” who walks into his office! A number of them lamented that they are left with the lesser qualified because the country is going through a serious brain drain issue.

If the discourse of education remained the same from 10 years ago, that the best students were not selected for local universities, the Federal government should not lament over the outflow of talents overseas. If some students with cumulative grade point averages (CGPA) of 4.0 were unable to get places in universities, the Ministry of Education and the selection panel have to ponder over their roles seriously. 

A lack of integrity and meritocracy in the selection process is a sure bet to push the nation backward. How can we hope to compete on brain power and attract FDI on our best talents if the authorities are working to deny the best students places in our local universities? We are barely 7 years away from the grand vision and milestone of 2020. I do not think it bears any significant meaning if our dialogue on education is still stuck with the same issue? 

Now, the zealots in the ministry want to make the Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies (Titas) to be a compulsory subject for local private colleges. The question is why just the Islamic studies? In a Friday report, Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a parliamentary written reply to Dr Ko Chung Sen (DAP-Kampar) that the move was to standardise requirements between public and private universities. He said that the move, to take effect in private tertiary institutions on Sept 1, would also include Ethnic Relations and Malaysian Studies.

Yet, the ministry and Pemandu want to make Malaysia a regional education hub? What can the ministry hope to achieve by making these subjects compulsory? Again, the politicians are making the people the sacrificial lambs for their own political mischief that has been contributing to disunity, ethnoreligious conflicts and racial tensions. 

Why would international students want to come to Malaysia and spend their time taking so many compulsory subject which do not contribute to their cognitive skills? Why would non-Muslim students would want to do the same?