An online petition demanding education minister Dr Maszlee Malik’s resignation has gained steam, after reports that he drew links between the matriculation quota system and unfair job private sector opportunities for bumiputras.
And it seems the people know who they want as their education minister instead. A separate petition calling for Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to take the reins has also been given fresh support, after Maszlee’s controversial comments were reported by local media.
The newer petition, which was started on petition website Change.org last Friday (May 17) by an individual who goes by the username “No hope Malaysia”, calls for Maszlee to step down for his allegedly insensitive stereotyping of non-bumiputras. Bumiputra is a local term referring to indigenous peoples and people who are ethnically Malay.
Maszlee had earlier defended the matriculation programme’s preference for bumiputra students and said those who want it to be opened to other races should address the unfair job market that is supposedly dominated by an unspecified race, reported Free Malaysia Today.
The policy allocates 90 per cent of university spaces to bumiputra students.
Maszlee had also incited public furore after claiming that the job market worked against non-Mandarin speakers, according to a report by The Star.
Citing a Free Malaysia Today report, No hope Malaysia wrote in the petition’s description: “Maszlee Malik said many non-Malays were well-off and could afford to send their children to private schools. Adding that non-Malays formed the majority in private and foreign universities in Malaysia.”
“But in fact, there are a lot of non bumi who [sic] are poor too. Non bumi enter private university not because all of them are rich, but because they have less chances to enter public universities,” he added.
At time of writing, the petition has accumulated more than 33,000 signatures, close to its target of 35,000.
Many Malaysians on the website slammed Maszlee for his remarks and supposedly lacklustre performance as a minister.
The Democratic Action Party (DAP) had earlier urged the Government to cease the prioritisation of bumiputra students in the matriculation programme, stating that it was in violation of the federal constitution’s guarantee of no discrimination against citizens, The Star said in an April report.
However, the Government later said it would keep the ratio but increase university intake from the current 25,000 to 40,000.
Calls for Dr M to take on education portfolio
The petition against Maszlee seems to have reignited a year-old appeal for the Prime Minister himself to take the helm as education minister.
The petition, which was created on Change.org last year by a person identified as Raveen Dev, appealed for the Prime Minister to assume leadership over the ministry.
Citing a video interview posted on Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Facebook page, Raveen wrote in appeal that although having Dr Mahathir as education minister would contradict Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto, the Prime Minister said he would take up the position if the people choose to accept the appointment.
The petition still receives signatures to this day and has since amassed nearly 134,000 signatures out of its target 150,000.
Dr Mahathir had previously said that the matriculation programme served as a “back door” for Malay students to gain entry into public universities, in response to the DAP’s calls for the system to be abolished, reported Free Malaysia Today.
The Star also quoted him as saying that the Government would look into the quota system and study the problem.
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