Meritocracy System Hurts Indian Students: Malaysian PM Najib
Malaysians of Indian descent stand to lose if the meritocracy system in higher education is implemented fully in the country, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said on Oct. 8. The government is taking measures to ensure that Indian Malaysians get better opportunities for gaining admission into local universities, he added.
“I am fully aware that the participation of Indian communities at higher learning institutions are still low. That is why I have recently given instructions to allocate 700 (additional) spots for Indian students,” Najib said at the opening ceremony of the Indian Progressive Front’s 25th annual general meeting at Serdang. “The Indians will continue to be victimized if we continue to fully practice this meritocracy system.” Najib added that his government had added 1,500 seats in matriculation courses for Indian Malaysians, a step taken for the “first time” in history.
“If we didn’t do something, the probable participation among Indian students in higher learning institutions would only be at 3 per cent to 4 per cent, and not 7 per cent as it stands now,” he said.
The meritocracy policy was introduced by former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to replaced the racial quota system for admission to public universities. The quota system, which involved reservation of 55 per cent of university seats for Malays and Bumiputera students, was abolished in 2002.
Najib said his government believes that the ethnic Indian community needs special affirmative attention to make them better equipped to succeed today.
“Without specific attention and intervention from the government, Indians will face difficulties in transiting from an estate community to a community that can succeed in the cities and the suburban areas,” he said, the Malay Mail Online reported. Talking about how the Tamil primary schools received monetary assistance during his administration, Najib added the over RM1 billion of loans approved for Indian entrepreneurs and businesses was a huge amount too.
The prime minister’s statements, however, received criticism from several Indians, who objected to the idea that the community needed special quota to succeed in gaining university admissions.
“The argument that meritocracy policy was introduced amongst Malays but was set aside for the progress of the Indian community is a complete nonsense to say the least,” Malaysian politician P. Ramasamy, the Deputy Chief Minister of the state of Penang, wrote in Barita Daily. “By saying this, Najib is once again ridiculing the efforts of the Indian community for all its hard work and perseverance.”