Damian S. L. Yeo & L. C. Goh (DSLY)
No. 2007, Lorong Sidang Omar, off Jalan Penghulu Abbas, Bukit Baru, Hang Tuah Jaya, 75100 Melaka

Tel : 06-2347011
& 06-2347012
Fax: 06-2347022


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Why so MARAH about MARA?

Malaysia suddenly became very democratic. People of all walks are able to come out to the street to protest without the threats of ISA, or any other written laws. Yes, I was talking about the march by UiTM students all across Malaysia. It started from dear Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim who proposed a 10% opening of it's campus to non-bumiputra. The reason was very noble and at the same time wanting UiTM to explore these possibilities to further enhance it's quality. So is there any wickedness in his statement? I don't think so.

Then came UMNO politicians led by the Prime Minister and of course the Vice Chancellor himself states that opening up to non-bumiputra, "the last bastion of the Malay will be end". Wooo, that is not a good statement. Now that words alone probably causes many of it's branches nationwide storm to the street to demonstrate.

Having said that, let us now look at history of why UiTM was set up? It is closely linked to the development of the independent Malaysian nation. It began in 1956 as Dewan Latihan RIDA, the English created organisation known as Rural and Industrial Development Authority. This training centre some how became Maktab MARA (MARA College) in 1965. The name change meant that the college no longer operated under RIDA and instead became the most important unit of the MARA Training Division. Which all of us know that MARA would means Majilis Amanah Rakyat or in English, the Council of Trust for the Indigenous People. Subsequently the school was renamed as Institut Teknologi MARA in 1967. Its establishment came as a response to a need in Malaysia for trained professionals, especially among Bumiputeras.

ITM's development took three major stages: From 1967 to 1976, ITM was an autonomous body with its own 300 acre (1.2 km²) campus in Shah Alam, operating under the Ministry of Rural Development. From 1976 to 1996, ITM advanced as an institution of higher learning and not only a professional training institute, operating directly under the Ministry of Education. In 1996, an amendment to the ITM Act of 1976 put ITM on a par with all the other universities but its historical name was retained until 1999 which then called Universiti Teknologi MARA.

Though the University undergone name change several times, what is more important is the quality the University produced. My opinion is simple, to meet the threats of globalisation, we cannot rely on ourself any more. We cannot be seen to be comfortable and contented in staying in their own cocoon. There is always a need to explore the impossibilities and the surroundings and as such the opening up to non bumiputeras would serve as a positive direction to prepare local Malay to counter the threats of globalisation.

This issue is not political or racial. The whole issue is the extension of quality and the sharing of knowledge. Take UTAR for example. I know of Malay students excelling in UTAR or TARC. As we all know the majority in these University, College are Chinese. So what is the threat? Why are Malay afraid in allowing the last bastion to be breached. I always threat my Malay friends as Abang and we, Chinese as Adik.

Why don't the government go one step further in harmonising race relation instead of racial polarisation. So is racial polarisation makes Malays stronger? I don't think so.What makes Malay strong is to allow the Malaysian identity stronger. This is evidenced during the recent election, whilst I was campaigning as a DAP candidate, I never seen in my lifetime such uniqueness of all race working together in establishing a Malaysian race and identity.

The only problem is UMNO. Seeing Zahid Hamidi (Minister in the PM's department) on TV3 Buletin Utama, showing a threat is simply.... 'Ketuanan Melayu'. Don't they know that Barisan Nasional got their 2/3 whacked out because the voters are voting for a multi racial and religious Malaysia? All of UMNO leadership issued threats from the President, his Deputy, Vice President Ali, and the rest. Just the same ole same.... STILL LIVING IN THEIR COCOON...

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