Maszlee criticised for linking matriculation quota and job market

Maszlee facing backlash from netizens. -Pix from Google

By Huzraifah Atikah

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik has been courting controversies lately with his statements over the matriculation and there seems to be no end in sight.

In his statement or rather gaffe, he defended the matriculation programme’s quota system by comparing it with an unfair job market which is dominated by a particular race. 

“If we want to change this, saying we are in the new Malaysia and that we do not need the quota system, then we must also ensure that job opportunities for Bumiputeras are not denied,” he said.    

He said the job market was discriminatory against non-Mandarin speakers as well as those wearing the Muslim headscarf.

“If we can get rid of this (discrimination), have an equitable job field and equal business opportunities, then we can talk about being fair in all matters,” he said.

This has riled up many netizens who feel Maszlee has got it all wrong.

These are some of the criticisms:

Meanwhile, Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy criticised Maszlee for linking the quota system in the matriculation programme with trends in the employment market, saying the minister appears “entrapped” along racial lines.

“So Maszlee is saying, as long as the private sector, in other words, the Chinese employers, are recruiting on the basis of knowledge in Mandarin, the government will maintain the present matriculation quota?" he asked.

He said it was shocking for Maszlee to link the two issues as any issue regarding Bumiputera employment in the private sector should be taken to the Cabinet for a solution.

He added that a recent survey had also shown that the Indians faced the most discrimination in both the public and private sectors.

According to the Centre for a Better Tomorrow's co-president Gan Ping Sieu, as an Education Minister, Maszlee should understand that language was a job skill. 

"It is market forces that determine if a person is employable.

"Knowing a particular language alone doesn't guarantee one a job – just as not knowing that language doesn't necessarily deny one a job," he added. 

Gan said it was unnecessary to issue statements that can heighten sentiments when it was time to 'lower the political temperature'.

"As a group that promotes moderation, we take a strong stand against words or deeds that will worsen race relations in this country.

"In fact, as Education Minister, he ought to play a key role in fostering unity starting from schools. There is no need to take cheap political shots which are divisive," he said.

Gan also urged Maszlee to instead look into preparing graduates to be more employable by arming them with skill sets that meet modern-day job requirements.