Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily
PUTRAJAYA, Feb 15 (Sin Chew Daily) -- Deputy higher education minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah feels that if the government could announce the recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) before the next general elections, it would be a great news for the Chinese community in the country.
"There are indeed several issues of concern among Chinese Malaysians that have been deferred for too long and overlooked by the government, including the recognition of UEC.
"I understand that the government wants the UEC to conform to the national education policy, but this could be explored later on.
"If the government is ready to recognise 'A' Level, why not the local UEC?"
Saifuddin said during an exclusive interview with Sin Chew Daily that Chinese Malaysians are not always supporting the opposition, but they often do not agree with what the BN component parties say.
"We can't keep saying that the May 13 incident will repeat itself, or that the opposition will 'Singaporeanise' Malaysia. This will not earn us support, but will scare away our existing supporters."
He pointed out that sure enough the ruling coalition had to hit out at the opposition, but that should be done over their policies, not constantly issuing threats as this would only irritate the public.
He said the BN indeed needed to change, such as working harder to fight for the well-being of the rakyat, or fight for the truth.
"If what I say sometimes appears to tilt towards the opposition, that's mere coincidence, not because I support them. Sometimes I'm just telling the truth."
Saifuddin emphasised that the truth should belong to all Malaysians, and any party struggling for the truth will surely win the support of people.
Saifuddin, who is also Umno Supreme Council member, said a "culture of fear" exists in the local society such that people are afraid to express themselves for fear of retaliation.
"If a person speaks too much, he will be seen as a hypocrite or a sympathiser of the opposition."
He said that was a very unhealthy culture, especially in institutions of higher learning, adding that students must be encouraged to speak up.
"We often hear that if you talk too much, you may not get promotion, or scholarship, or be denied university hostel, etc.
"While such a claim could not be proven, we cannot deny that it did happen before.
"This is why the Bawani incident has aroused so much concern in our society.
"We always hope that our tertiary students could have creative and innovative minds, but they often keep their mouths shut because of this 'fear culture.' This is not what we want to see!
"I never think a student is uncultured or rude if he speaks his mind or argue with his lecturer... This is a very healthy communication channel.
Government to review Blueprint
Saifuddin said his ministry would review the National Education Blueprint this year, and as such experts from all fields are invited to offer their feedback in order to make Malaysia's universities truly world-class.
He said the ministry would start inviting the experts to submit their proposals from this month, and would begin studying the proposals from March.
He said all the reviews would be completed by September, after which the ministry of higher education would start drafting the new education blueprint.