This debate has been on-going since forever and here we are in 2018, still talking about whether MARA University of Technology (UiTM) should be open for all Malaysians.
Since the break of a new dawn in Malaysia post-GE14, the pros and cons for what seems like an apt shift as we move forward to live harmoniously together beyond the boundary of race has never been so clear and full of impact.
If you didn’t already know, here’s a crash course on what you need to know about Malaysia’s public university. UiTM was established in 1956 and it was initially opened with the intention of helping Malays in the rural areas of the country. Now, the university is primarily based in Shah Alam, Selangor, with 13 autonomous state campuses and 21 satellite campuses offering about 500 study programmes ranging from foundation to postgraduate level.
The topic resurfaced after Uthayakumar of Hindraf 2.0 had submitted 25 demands to Institutional Reforms Committee (IRC), one of which included an old demand to open up UiTM for all. However according to The Sun Daily, Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) chairman P. Waytha Moorthy denied the proposal and has confirmed that Hindraf 2.0 is not a valid organisation.
Soon after, the hashtag #UiTM has risen to the top of the list of trending topics on social media. Many Malaysians and UiTM alumni have spoken up in support and against the issue. Here are a few tweets that really stood out for us:
My favorite UiTM story is when UiTM realized they need diversity to rise in the all-important QS rankings. So it was decided to open post-graduate admission to foreigners, on the condition that applicants were bumiputeras *in their own country*.
— Sir Zayn (@bingregory) May 30, 2018
First thing we should do about UiTM is make sure that only those from lower income groups can get placement. I suspect that when this is done, there would actually be more than enough space for UiTM to cater to all races of similar income group.
— Zaid Malek (@ZaidMalek) May 29, 2018
While pushing 100% meritocracy in UiTM would be too drastic, opening some spots (10-20% maybe?) to non-Bumis will greatly benefit the university.
The experience of mingling & working with people outside your own races is enriching. It’s what prepares you for the working world.
— Faizal Hamssin (@faizalhamssin) May 29, 2018
While many users on Twitter are in support of pushing for change, MARA University of Technology (UiTM) Alumni Association (PAUiTM) felt so strongly on the matter that they created a petition to protest against demands to open admissions to non-Bumiputera students.
When the issue was addressed to PAUiTM’s president, Datuk Mohd Zaini Hassan, he said “We have no problem whether UiTM admits non-Bumiputeras or not… but it should be in line with the current national education system. My reasoning is simple, as long as the school education system is still diverse (according to race), I think the original goal of UiTM should be maintained, that is, to cater only for the Malays and Bumiputeras.”
The petition was set up a few days ago on 29th May and at time of writing it’s at the 168,000 mark with a goal of 200,000 signatures.
People may have different views on this topic but this writer personally is open to the idea of opening up UiTM to all Malaysians, regardless of race. In the educational sphere, there are much larger issues for us to fix but I think it’s important for us to take the step in the right direction in order to live in an inclusive society. So, do you think we’re ready for the change? Continue the conversation thread and let us know what you think!