It has been a difficult battle for MCA to convince UMNO leaders that they have to be fairer, more equitable and democratic in its educational policies. While we realize there is a need to help bumis, it should not be at the expense of depriving deserving non-bumi students, in terms of entering into tertiary education, special training and scholarships. When the government decided to do away with the quota system and introduced 'meritocracy' as the entry to the tertiary institution, we raised the fact that there was unfairness in that bumi students go through a matriculation course whereas non-bumi students go through the STPM. It is not the same yardstick of measurement since the matriculation course is based on coursework and monthly assessments; whereas the STPM exam is a one-off event and often a difficult exam to do well in. So, even in "meritocracy", it is not at a same level playing field.
However, we note that of late, the success rate of non-bumis, especially Chinese gaining entry into local tertiary institutions of higher learning has been on the uptrend. In order to placate the feelings of non-bumis, the government allowed 10% of non-bumi students into matriculation courses, but because of the limited seats available, this has also become another sore point for non-bumis although it represents a new avenue of entry into tertiary education. In a way, it is too little, too late.
As far as scholarships are concerned by JPA, the numbers of successful Chinese with JPA scholarship have also been on the uptrend, about 500 plus last year, way above the usual less than 10 before the year 2000. However, these numbers are way below that of bumi students sponsored by MARA and various other government linked initiatives. Hence, it is not surprising to find a whole bumi family where the children are holding government scholarship and studying overseas. You can help the bumi students but do not deprive deserving non-bumi students. It breeds anti-government feeling at a very young age. Imagine your classmate doing worse than you in class and yet getting a place ahead of you, who has performed better. How would you feel?