Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday the the Bumiputera university quota should not be considered as racist act as it is opportunities given to Bumiputeras to enter public universities and to ensure that Bumiputeras were not left behind in mainstream education.
KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday the opportunities given to Bumiputeras to enter public universities should not be disputed as a racist act that favours one race at the expense of the others.
The former prime minister said the move was to ensure that Bumiputeras were not left behind in mainstream education as this could have negative repercussions.
He said at private institutions of higher learning, Bumiputera enrolment was very low, only about 10 per cent, while the rest was made up of students from other races.
This was because many Bumiputeras could not afford the fees.
"If we conduct a census of the number of students in private universities, there are more non-Bumiputera students. That's why we give attention and more places to Bumiputeras," he said in his keynote address, "UUM 25 Years Expectation vs Reality", at the Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) Alumni Convention 2009 here.
"So, we should not feel guilty because we reserved places for Bumiputeras. We have a right to attain a position that is on par in this country."
Dr Mahathir said the affirmative action policy of bringing Bumiputeras into the mainstream of development in the country was not something extreme because although they made up about 60 per cent of the population, the quota was only 30 per cent.
He added that the extra attention and opportunities given to Bumiputeras did not mean the other races were sidelined.
He said it was important for Bumiputeras to have knowledge to run a business because many of them did not use the money as capital or to invest but to shop.
"We must change the Bumiputera's mindset. The money will bring returns when invested and this can enhance their wealth. Normally, they will spend when they have money.
"And very often, it is more than the money available and this causes problems." -- Bernama.