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Make TARUC a true people’s university

  • The PH government now has a negative balance sheet of trust, particularly in education. After the Jawi, incident, the matriculation issue and now the Kongres, how can we fault the voters for feeling betrayed?

By Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi

In this article, once again, I am writing to support that TARUC should be allotted appropriate funding by the PH government.

In the latest budget, YB Wee Ka Siong has lamented that the PH government was still being extremely unkind to the Chinese community and those who voted the PH into power.

YB Lim Guan Eng, on his part, turned the matter around and said that the government will help TARUC if MCA relinquish their ownership of the educational institution.

Last year many would applaud Lim Guan Eng’s stolid principle of non-interference of political parties in universities. Now, I am afraid, the joke is on the PH and Lim himself.

After the disastrous Kongres Maruah Melayu organised by four public universities that showed clear support for racism and bigotry at an unprecedented level in the history of Malaysia, the rakyat would be scratching their heads asking, what the devil is Lim talking about? Where is the lofty principle of ‘non-interference’ by political entities?

The nyonya from pasar malam knows that the congress was supported by one enthusiastic party from the PH. The ‘aci’ can see from her YouTube smart phone that it was attended by Amanah, PPBM and a few sprinkling of leaders from PKR.

I did not see any Melayu DAP. So clearly, DAP is absolved of this ‘dosa’ of racism and bigotry. But the PH now bears the responsibility. It was extremely lucky that Tun Mahathir, in his statesmanship wisdom turned the table on the racist academics and university leadership and reprimanded the Malays for their own self woes. If not, we would have seen the last of the New Malaysia that the rakyat desperately wanted to see in this new government.

So, in my book, MCA scores one point above PH. MCA and TARUC did not and, I think, will never organise a Kongres Maruah Cina as opposed to the four delinquent institutions that was UM, UiTM, UPSI and UPM. I was hoping that the leadership of these four universities might receive a letter or a word of reprimand by the MOE, the TDP Agung or the Sultans but none seemed forthcoming.

I was hoping that there might be rumours of leadership changes but there is no movement. I was lastly hoping that there might be budget cuts of these four universities but the MOE has its budget increased significantly above others. I hope the money goes to poor schools in Sabah and Sarawak instead of public universities, especially the racist four. To hope that the budgets of the four universities be cut by RM15 million and given to TARUC instead would be too much of a fantasy to even be dreamt of.

Here is a question for Malaysians, if TARUC were to give up their ownership, who would it give it up to? Would Malaysians accept that MCA transfer ownership to the MOE? Let’s say the federal government buys TARUC by paying whatever balance that is due after investing for four decades in the university, will the MOE take over then? Should Malaysians allow such a thing to occur? Do Malaysians want another public university with an all Melayu leadership and a quota for Malays increased to 60%?

After the Kongres Maruah Melayu, no Malaysians who love this country as a Malaysian would even consider giving away TARUC to the PH government. The PH government now has a negative balance sheet of trust, particularly in education. After the Jawi, incident, the matriculation issue and now the Kongres, how can we fault the voters for feeling betrayed?

To me, reading the country’s history of how UiTM becomes the bastion of Malay education supported and funded by the taxpayers, I say let TARUC remain with MCA as a safe haven of educational excellence and impartiality. MCA can increase this trust of the people of Malaysia by appointing trusted civil society members from various race and faiths to guide the university and proclaim an important point about making the university to be ‘owned’ by the people. I have made a similar suggestion about public universities having board members from the civil society, but I am almost sure that my suggestion, like many others I have made, will be ignored. I hope that MCA might not ignore this suggestion as it is easy to implement.

If MCA can appoint the civil society members to its board, then the civil society should campaign for funding that may aid the university and let it be an affordable ‘people university’ producing quality graduates that have the 'maruah Malaysia’ and not be part of a racist and bigoted educational institution of our country.

If MCA can ‘relinquish’ this symbolic sense of partial ownership by the people, then the PH should release at least 50% of the allocated budget for this year and the next. That gesture may send a strong signal to the other public universities whose reputation has now been eroded by the four universities participating in the Kongres Maruah Melayu.

In 20 years' time, Malaysians must consider a trust fund for the people’s university like an endowment system that would free universities 100% from either the clutches of pure capitalism and political interference by the Ministry of Education. That way whichever political party takes the reign of Malaysia, we can be assured that at least one institution is left to save Malaysia from the racism and bigotry that seems to have no end in our system of governance.

(Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor at a local university.)

 

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