UEC recognition, a comedy of errors

Kua Kia Soong, KTemoc Konsiders

The procrastination by the Pakatan Harapan government over the recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) of the Malaysian Independent Chinese Secondary Schools (MICSS) is fast turning into Malaysia’s comedy of errors.

We have been told the summary findings by the UEC which was supposed to be submitted to the government today, has been postponed – the planned meeting between the task force and the minister did not take place after weeks of hype.

Apparently, according to a Sin Chew Daily report, Education Minister Maszlee Malik is on medical leave although he managed to attend a Tamil film screening:

“I’m on sick leave today but it so happens that the screening is today so I was brought here by my officers. There are many teachers attending the screening today,” he was quoted as saying.

Honour the PH GE14 election promise now

The UEC has not been recognised since Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad refused to even allow Dong Zong to hold the exam in 1975. It is clear that PH won the vast majority of the Chinese votes during GE14 mainly because among other promises, the PH manifesto and the PH leaders pledged to recognise the UEC, the school leaving certificate of the Malaysian Independent Chinese Secondary Schools that has been maligned by Umno all these years since 1975. Voters were given the impression that such recognition was part of PH’s reform in a new and inclusive Malaysia.

The truth is that through the years the UEC has become a political issue since Umno refuses to recognise the MICSS system because of their “Malay Agenda”, a policy that is holding back creative development of our human resources. The pussyfooting we see now from the PH government is nothing more than the lack of moral courage and political will to break from the years of Umno bigotry and racism. This is the price we pay for adhering to race-based political parties.

There seems to be no end to the UEC recognition farce. The prime minister has told us that “the recognition of UEC needs to consider the feelings of Malays.”

Isn’t it amazing that the Cambridge O levels and A levels have been held in our country since Independence but we don’t hear anyone voicing consternation about how these foreign English-language examinations can hurt the feelings of the Malays or compromise the unity and harmony among Malaysians or threaten the status of the national language!

It was clear from the start that the prime minister and PPBM had no intention of recognising the UEC, the school leaving certificate of the Malaysian Independent Chinese Secondary Schools. We now know that their party exists to champion the “Bumiputera Agenda”. As Mahathir has admitted, these election promises were made because PH never thought they would win anyway.

UEC Special Committee is merely a delaying tactic

Mahathir’s statement about “Malay sensitivities” having to be considered was made after the education minister had set up a special committee “…to gather views on recognising the Unified Examination Certificate”.

The justification for the selection of the committee members was never spelt out nor were the terms of reference clear from the start.

Instead of this so-called special committee, the education ministry should reveal the results of the MQA’s assessment of the UEC all these years. This is the only missing piece in this whole UEC recognition comedy.

Thus, if the MQA is a professional accreditation institution without political constrictions, it would spell out in no uncertain terms what its audit of the UEC has concluded.

Has the new PH government consulted the MQA on this? It does not matter if the requirements of the MQA are far more stringent than the National University of Singapore’s – it just has to spell out in no uncertain terms what the results of that audit are! The government cannot simply suspend a purely professional decision for more than forty years!

It’s academic, stupid!

In 2015, then Sarawak chief minister, Adenan Satem said that the education ministry was stupid not to recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) of the sixty Malaysian Independent Chinese Secondary Schools (MICSS), a certificate that has been recognised by the top universities in the world since it has led to a brain drain of our talented human resources.

“Stupid” – That was the exact word he used. Imagine the ministry of education which is the main institution for nurturing wisdom and far-sightedness and propagating knowledge and rationality being called that!

Does the PH government want to see out their term in office embroiled in this needless comedy of errors and flip flops over a simple academic question of the recognition of the UEC?

Kua Kia Soong is the adviser to Suaram.