(File pix) Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy. NSTP/Danial Saad

GEORGE TOWN: University officials need not come to Education Minister Maszlee Malik’s defence over the matriculation quota issue, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy said.

Ramasamy said Maszlee, who was criticised recently for linking the matriculation quota intake issue with that of language requirements for jobs, could defend himself.

“I don’t think there is a need for university officials to come to his defence unless, of course, they want to ingratiate themselves to him for certain reasons,” he told New Straits Times here today.

Ramasamy was asked to comment on Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail’s defence of Maszlee.

Asma had said that the education minister should be praised for defending the matriculation programme as well as linking it to job requirements.

She had said that this was because education and job opportunities were connected to each other, and that the emphasis on language requirements, which was commonplace in various sectors, was considered a taboo subject that was not tackled.

Maszlee had reportedly said that if Malaysians did not want the quota system, then job opportunities should also not be denied to Bumiputeras on the basis of language requirements.

Maszlee had made the remark during a question-and-answer session at USM on Thursday (May 16).

Ramasamy said that while it was understandable for Asma to support her “boss”, he was unsure whether she thought Maszlee made a relevant connection between the matriculation intake and the low level of Malay participation or whether she was blindly supporting him just because he is her “boss”.

“Matriculation admission is something that should be addressed separately and not simply linked with the discrimination of Malays through the imposition of Mandarin requirement.

“She (Asma) should understand that if we need to discuss the matriculation admission in a broader context, then we also need to factor in public sector employment.

“However, public sector employment mainly consists of Malays, over 90 per cent, with a sprinkling of non-Malays,” he said.

Ramasamy said he would have agreed with Maszlee if he had wanted to review the whole matriculation system and to come up with a better model.

However, he said, looking at the issue from an ethnic perspective made it difficult to form a more rational perspective.

“I sincerely hope that Asma takes a more balanced approach when it comes to education matters.

“As an academic leader of a premium institution in the country, she should consider the views of all Malaysians and not rush into taking popular decisions to favour certain individuals or a segment of the population.

“Perhaps, she wants to look into the state of academia in USM itself as there are complaints about discrimination in the intake of staff and when it comes to promotions,” he said, adding that Asma should focus on these and other problems.