Has Umno killed an opportunity for Malay students?

I gave a lecture to a group of students at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012. It was fun and we had a laugh!

I gave a lecture to a group of students at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012. It was fun and we had a laugh!


Has Umno killed an opportunity for Malay students?
By Zan Azlee

It is very amusing and funny to see how people make idiotic blunders when they don’t think before taking action. But sometimes, these blunders quite significant impacts.

Take for example, the recent management by the Cabinet minister in charge of MARA, the agency responsible for developing the economic and social development of the Malays.

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri had ordered MARA Director-General, Datuk Ibrahim Ahmad, terminate its sponsorship for the next intake of students studying at Taylor’s University.

The Minister of Rural and Regional Development gave no official reason for why the decision was made. But for context, we need to look at the prior developments of the issue.

A few days before, on Malaysia Day, a big rally known as the ‘red-shirts’ rally or ‘Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu’ was organised in Kuala Lumpur to reinforce Malay rights in the country.

Many considered the rally to be racist in nature (and this includes me) and it received a mighty amount of criticism from all layers of Malaysian society.

It was organised by a group of Malays who attempted to push that Malays are the lords of the country and other races need to realise their second class position because they are immigrants.

Racially-based speeches were made, verbal abuse was dished out and judgments were made on both sides of the divide. Personally, I was disgusted.

And as the smoke slowly cleared, realisations started setting in as well. And this brings us back to the issue of MARA and Taylor’s University.

A bus bearing the logo of Taylor’s University was spotted at the rally and it was apparently used to transport and ferry participants in and out of the rally on the day.

Taylor’s then released a statement saying they did not authorise the service of the bus bearing their logo for the rally and it was not used to ferry their students there.

They also announced that they have terminated their contract with the bus operator with two months notice as per the contract they have with the operator.

And the private university expressed their ‘regret on the unintentional association of Taylor’s University with this event (the ‘red-shirt’ rally).

It is clear that the university did not agree with the intentions of the rally and did not want to be associated with it. And when their logo was seen at the rally, they did not like it.

And it is also easy to assume that the reaction by the Minister in calling for the termination of the sponsorship of students at Taylor’s to be associated to the termination of the bus service.

The university has every right in wanting to control the image and reputation and by terminating their contract with a company that was not in line with their wishes.

And, if you go by the words of the Higher Education Minister, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, MARA has every right as well to terminate the sponsorship of students to the university.

Idris said that there needs to be no explanation as to the sudden termination because this was under the purview of the Ministry and no reason needs to be given for it.

But look at these two actions closer. Taylor’s also had every right to do what they did and they clearly made their reasons clear as to why – they did not want to be associated with a racist rally.

The Ministry’s decision to terminate the sponsorship came with no explanation whatsoever, and it came immediately after the Taylor’s decision being made public by the media.

Although there was no official call of support for the red-shirt rally by Umno or any of it’s leaders, Ismail was at one of the meeting points of the rally on the day.

And prior to the rally, the Umno leader had also said that Umno will be there if they are invited and he will be sending party members to join.

Now answer this question that I am posing – for a group who says they fight for the Malays, have they jeopardised this by killing an opportunity for Malay students to gain an education?

[This article was written originally for English.AstroAwani.Com]

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