From “Shoe Minister” To “Kangkung Minister” – Mahathir Should Fire Maszlee Before He Performs Another Silly Stunt

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May 19 2019
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Dr Maszlee, famously known as the “Shoe Minister”, should be given a medal for his excellent job in shooting his own foot without fail. The “accidental” education minister gained fame after his proposal on July 20 last year to switch students’ white shoes to black. It’s a great mystery how Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad headhunted this exquisite talent from his PPBM party.


Less than a year after his black shoe fiasco, the education minister has done it again. In his rush to defend the discriminatory matriculation programme’s special preference for Bumiputera (son of the soil) students, he had argued that if the critics did not want the matriculation quota system, then job opportunities should not be denied to Bumiputera because they do not speak Chinese.


It was like former Prime Minister Najib Razak argues that if people want more free cash, then they should allow him to steal even more money from the national coffers. As silly and bizarre as the argument may sound that roughly describes how clueless and ignorant the Education Minister Dr Maszlee was when he made the threat.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik - White Shoes Black Shoes

Yes, Maszlee’s argument was not even a justification, but sounded like a threat. In fact, it was an extortion or blackmail – if the people wanted to get rid of the discrimination in the matriculation system, then Bumiputera should be given jobs in the private sector, even if most of those half-baked graduates could not speak proper English, let alone proficiency in Mandarin.


Earlier this month, Mahathir confirmed the dirty dark secret everyone has been suspected for decades. The matriculation programme was designed to help low-performing ethnic Malays enter local public universities. The PM admitted it was actually “back door” to increase university intake for the ethnic Malay. In essence, it was to make the Malays feel proud of having a piece of degree.


Mahathir said – “We decided to have matriculation classes because we found Malays did not take the Higher School Certificate and cannot enter the university. So we provided a back door for them. It was entirely meant as a back door for the Malays.” The now-defunct Higher School Certificate is now called Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) – taken by Form 6 students.

Malaysia Matriculation Programme - Kolej Matrikulasi Perlis

The HSC (now STPM) was the precursor to the GCE A Level in the UK. STPM is one of the two major pre-university systems for admission to Malaysian public universities. The other is the one to two-year matriculation programme. Since 2005, the selection process for matriculation programme is done through a race-based quota system, where 90% of the places are reserved for Bumiputera students.


Some might argue that the matriculation programme was created to help the poor Bumiputera, especially those from rural area. Indeed matriculation is one of the most sought-after pre-university programmes among Malaysians as it is an extremely cost-effective route into tertiary education. All you need to pay is the registration fee, ranging from RM580 to RM530.


Other fees and costs, including generous allowance, are subsidized by the government. While it’s true that matriculation provides cost-effective education option for poor Bumiputera students, the biggest advantage is the express-route to public universities for the so-called “son of soil”. Clearly, it was designed exclusively to discriminate against non-Bumiputera students who are forced to take the STPM route.

Non-Malay Students - Matriculation or STPM

Because matriculation is applicable for SPM-leavers, non-Bumiputera students will be left fighting tooth and nail every year for the limited 10% places allocated. Going through STPM route will take an extra 2 years of study before they can apply to enter public universities. From the beginning, the ethnic Chinese and Indian students are fighting a losing battle just to get a decent education.


Here’s where it gets interesting. Education Minister Maszlee might be clueless, or he was just plain racist, but the fact remains that the billions of Ringgit spent on subsidizing the matriculation programme is derived from taxpayers’ money every year. According to Mahathir himself, 90% of income tax is paid by the Chinese. Yet, it’s 90% of the Malays who get the free seats to matriculation.


That’s right, unlike the minority Chinese and Indian, the majority “ethnic Malay” has the option of paying “zakat” as an alternative to income tax. The zakat paid will go to the Islamic cause while the tax the Chinese pay goes to paying the salaries of the 1.6 million civil servants, who happens to be mostly Malays, as well as other expenses such as the subsidy for matriculation.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik - Biodata Resume

When Dr Maszlee whines, moans and bitches that job opportunities should not be denied to Bumiputera because they do not speak Chinese, we assume he was referring to the private sector. Its extraordinary funny that the education minister didn’t mention about the bloated civil service where close to 80% of the jobs goes to Malays or Bumiputera – denying jobs for “Bahasa-speaking” non-Malays.


The private sector is often linked to businesses owned by ethnic Chinese community. But the primary objective of private businesses is to make profit. Perhaps the education minister hasn’t a clue of how the real business world functions. The business world has nothing to do with your ethnicity, but everything to do with your capability, education, communication skill, etiquette, soft skill and whatnot.


More importantly, unlike the matriculation programme, private sector does not get government subsidies to run their business, but depends on the stakeholders’ own capital and hard-earned money. If one of the requirements for a job is to be able to speak or write Chinese, that’s because the organizations require such skill set to improve customer service relationships due to their business clientele.

CIA Career Recruitment - Bahasa Language Requirement

It’s the same case with the CIA’s recent career advertisement requiring proficiency in “Bahasa”. Perhaps Maszlee should criticize the CIA for being discriminatory in recruiting “Bahasa-speaking” agents. Can Maszlee explain why the employments within GLCs (government-linked-companies) prefer Malays, despite ethnic Chinese and Indian possess a great command of Malay language – both spoken and written?


So, it’s alright for civil service and GLCs to reject non-Malay job seekers despite them having excellent written and spoken skills in Malay language, but not alright for private sector to reject Malay job seekers because they could not speak or write Chinese, which is required to ensure competitiveness and functional of the business? Even promotions for non-Malay within civil service are very rare.


When Mahathir exposed that the Malays did not take the HSC and cannot enter universities, it’s as clear as crystal that the Malay students left to do matriculation are sort of rejected students who are not smart enough to further higher education overseas, of which is government-sponsored too. Hence, this category of low-performing ethnic Malays are given the second best prize – guaranteed local university degrees.

University Graduates - Malay Students

The real reason Maszlee could not give a satisfactory justification why matriculation still adopts discrimination and racism in its enrolment process is because the majority of the Malay students could not compete fairly with Chinese and Indian students. If matriculation is open to everyone without the quota system, it would make Malay students look inferior compares to other ethnicity.


Education Minister Maszlee was definitely a fool for linking the matriculation intake quota with language requirements for jobs as both are different issues. It would be a different matter altogether if “zakat” contributed by Malays are used to subsidize the matriculation programme. When you use taxpayers’ money to run matriculation, it’s hard to argue why 9 out of 10 students must be Malays.


Of course, Maszlee was playing the race card to portray himself as a hero of the Malay community. But that would make him indifferent from the racist UMNO politicians who had been toppled. He should be careful what he wishes for. Like Najib Razak, who used the wrong strategy, Maszlee may lose not only the Chinese and Indian votes, he probably will fail to attract Malay voters at the same time.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik - Discussing

The simple-minded education minister also said many non-Malays were well-off and could afford to send their children to private schools. Obviously, the racist Maszlee fails to understand that not all Chinese or Indian parents can afford to send their children to private universities. Most often than not, they have to sell assets just to ensure their kids get a quality education.


More importantly, Maszlee’s shallow-minded and racist perspective in fixing the quota system will worsen the quality and marketability of the Malay students. It’s exactly people like Maszlee who contributes to the PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund Corporation) problems. How can they pay their loans when 1 out of 5 of 250,000 graduates produced every year – mostly Malays – is unemployable?


Instead of reforming the education system, Education Minister Maszlee plays with the colour of shoes and now racial cards. If he could not see the idiocy in linking matriculation quota to language requirements for jobs, chances are he is still waiting for the next clue or instruction from Mahathir on how to overhaul – even revolutionize – the existing broken education system.

Non Chinese at SJKC Vernacular School

Perhaps Maszlee, instead of beating around the bush, should ask himself this question – will the Malay students become more employable and valuable if they learn Chinese? The world does not revolve around Malays. The private sector does not owe them a living. Perhaps he still couldn’t figure out why more than 80,000 Malay school children are currently studying in vernacular “SJKCs” schools.


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Actually it is a waste of breath trying to educate or criticize Maszlee. He is beyond the ability on learning. Infact on knowing his acdemic credentials, it is nothing to shout about on his Bachelor Degree and Master all from the same Islamic university and nothing credit worthy in his experience or exposure to justify his undertaking on the responsibility of the important Education Portfolio. With rumours of his association with the Muslim Brotherhood, looks like his actions and deeds on education are more of propagating Islamic studies. He is by no means an educator but a missionary man for Islam. . He has to go and rakyat for their children sake has to force it on the PM to rid him off. We are talking about furture generations of educated population that needs to be competitive for Malaysia to be independent of foreign big brothers control. Maszlee has done one too many concerns to be taken lightly. He must be fired …. Period.

Dear Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik

In your recent speech, you again brought out the subject of non-bumiputra being rich and has the advantage of better education. And that poverty is the key reason that bumiputra cannot excel and need more and more quota and assistance.

I do not want to argue on that, nor want to dig into statistic on the rich and the poor, but I do seriously question your mindset and value system.

You cannot be ignorant of the rising China, 40 years ago, they were in the pit of the world poverty. Did they get any assistance and favourable quota from advanced countries, to today world 2nd largest world economy?

Is rich and poor the key determination factor to success?

Surely you will not use such yardstick for family education.

As the nation Education Minister, your responsibility is huge, but you need to have the correct mindset.

I am all for the success of every Malaysian and especially the majority Malays who are not yet in the advantaged situation. But you know more quota, more financial aids will not solve the problem.

It is the character-building you need to implement as national policy.

Inculcate the value system of self-confidence, able to stand on own feet and not depend on props. Honesty, Hard work, Integrity, Open mindedness, Respect others culture, Curiosity to learn and learn.

That is the only Key Task you must do, to help the nation and to help especially the majority Malays.

Mobilize the national talents, artists, song writers, singers, cartoonists, to develop interesting mass media contents of Malaysian contexts, to promote the above said values. Mobilize all the religious bodies in the country to promote such values in their religious lessons to young children.

There are so much you can do and must do as nation Education Minister.


Ancient Wisdom Today Wellbeing

Dear Encik Maszlee Malik,

I was a SPM candidate of year 1994. When the results came out in year 1995, I was grateful that I got 9 As, including Bahasa Melayu, yes, including Bahasa Melayu. Yet, sadly, I was denied by all local universities! At that point, I thought it was the end of the world for me as my parents were already 57 years old and had long retired as a tin mining worker (pekerja bijih timah). However, my dad insisted I must get a degree and he would exhaust all of his savings and EPF, yes, including his EPF for that. So I was “forced” to go to a private college due to rejections of local universities despite flying colors SPM results! At that time, there were no 4+0, 3+1, the best I could do was twining programs.

Yes, I had to go overseas for a degree! Wow.. how exciting right? Well, in order to be admitted to any US universities, I had to prove that I had enough money. And I remember I had to use my uncle’s bank account and took an oath in front of a Pesuruhjaya Sumpah!

Our days in US universities were just about studying hard and working hard. Yes, working hard as we needed to work to pay for our tuition fees and living expenses. And I used WE here, because I wasn’t alone. There were quite a few of my non-bumi unimates in the same situation like me. In fact, I had a senior, Soon, who even “selling” blood and being a mice for Harris Laboratories to test out the latest medicines to earn his tuition fees. I didn’t have guts like him, hence what I did was taking lots of subjects in each semester to shorten my university life. I remember the most that I have taken was 7 subjects in a semester (for most students would be just 3 or 4 subjects in average) and yet I worked for 20 hours per week. I have done dish washing in cafeterias, also have done toilet cleaning ! My hands are allergic to detergents (even now), there were more than once my hands were cracked and bleeding, but yet I had to work.

7 subjects in a semester was no joke. I always stayed up late in the library or computer lab as I couldn’t afford to have my own computer. Well, I even picked up my study table in a dumpster thrown by others, so what to expect right? I also remember I used to ride my bicycle in a snowing night after done using the computer in the lab. Snowing night! It’s beautiful right? But I had no mood to enjoy it at all as “hundreds of needles” were poking my face when I cycled in a below 0 degree celsius cold weather!! On top of that, the icy road might cause me falling down any time too! Fun eh?

Encik Maszlee, I am sure my story is just one out of many out there for those “berada” non-bumis whom you labelled and who could afford to go to private college!! Is this the “ketidakseimbangan” that you talked about?

In “New” Malaysia, I don’t expect things will change overnight and understand it will take time. However, as a minister of education of what you term as “Malaysia Baharu”, having that kind of mindset and having such words coming out of your mouth, is disappointing! Worse yet, you said it in front of students of a local university, who supposedly the future leaders of our nation, is heart breaking!! Even more devastating , they agreed with you and chanted all along. So. what is so new in this Malaysia Baharu? Where is the harapan? 😢😢

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