Recognition of Nanyang and Formosan University degrees and qualifications by government

Adjournment Speech by DAP Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at the Dewan Ra’ayat on Wednesday, 8th December 1971

Recognition of Nanyang and Formosan University degrees and qualifications by government

Malaysia suffers from an acute shortage of qualified manpower. We are short of teachers, doctors, engineers, agricultural specialists, technicians and administrators.

The First Malaysia Plan in 1965 gave some interesting data. It said that in 1965, 30 per cent of jobs in the private sector which require more than a secondary education are either vacant or filled by non-Malaysians as no qualified Malaysians are available to fill them. In the public services, recruitment succeeded in filling only 70% of the 3,500 vacancies in government departments.

The Second Malaysia Plan did not give any comparable figures to show whether the position has improved as a result of the First Malaysia Plan. We can safely assume that the situation has not improved, or we will get comparable data to allow the government to boast of the success of its qualified manpower training programme of the past five years.

The shortage of specialised know-how in science, technology, agriculture, business and management is one of the most important limiting factors on the expansion of the economy and employment.

The problem of scarcity and shortage of skilled manpower is common to all underdeveloped countries. But if we fail to resolve this problem with intelligence and imagination, then it will obstruct the modernisation of the industrial and rural economy of Malaysia and, in turn, seriously hamper the task of nation-building. We can ill-afford, therefore, a brain drain or a brain waste.

One would expect the government to adopt an enlightened policy to explore all possible avenues to resolve this grave problem.

Sad to say, the government has adopted a very reactionary and bigoted policy with regard to a reservoir of trained Malaysian manpower. I am referring to the 7,000 to 8,000 graduates from the Nanyang, Formosan and Chinese universities.

The government has persisted in its refusal to recognize these degrees, or to consider the future of the graduates.

Here is a pool of qualified manpower which can be harnessed to the country’s industrial and economic programmes, but the Alliance government lacks the flexibility, imagination and foresight to tap their potential.

These graduates are either unemployed or are working in jobs not commensurate with their qualifications, creating deep social frustration and discontent. What is ludicrous is that while their qualifications are not recognised in Malaysia, they are acceptable to other Commonwealth countries for post-graduate studies, and some of them are now teaching in the University of Malaya.

It is indeed a grave anomaly that Malaysia should be recruiting professional personnel from foreign countries while they continue to allow Malaysians who have professional training from the Nanyang, Formosan or other Chinese universities to go to rot.
Just to give one example. The Second Malaysia Plan envisages that despite the government’s special programmes to produce trained agricultural manpower in the next five years, the country will still be short of requirement. The Plan expects the shortage to be met from foreign sources.

My contention is that instead of recruiting skilled agricultural manpower from foreign countries, like Indonesia, the government should employ Malaysian trained agricultural manpower who are the products of Formosan universities. The Malaysian government, clearly has a greater responsibility to give employment to Malaysians who have agricultural training in Formosan universities than to employ foreign people, whether it be from Indonesian or elsewhere.

This should similarly be the case with regard to Nanyang, Formosan, and Chinese university graduates in other courses of study, whether it be science, engineering, accountancy, economics or commerce.

The DAP urges the government to give new thinking to this problem and to take immediate steps to stop this criminal waste of qualified manpower, though they emanate from the Chinese education stream, if Malaysia’s modernisation programme is not to be affected, and if the government is really genuine in wanting to give every Malaysian a stake in the future of the country.

A few days ago, it was announced that the Ministry of Education would emplace teachers with Nanyang, Formosan and Chinese university degrees on ‘Cl’ category of the new teaching scale, on the same level as H.S.C. and Islamic College teachers – with a starting pay of $430.

We note however that graduates from Caire’s Al-Azhar University are emplaced on ‘D3’ category with a starting pay of $640, i. e. $210 more than that of a graduate from Nanyang, Formosan or Chinese university.

This discrimination and inequality in salary scale is unjustified, and I call on the government to give full recognition to Nanyang, Formosan and Chinese university qualifications by emplacing them on the ‘D3’ scale on par with graduates of the Al-Azhar University and the University of Malaya.

I also call on the government to accord general recognition of Nanyang, Formosan and Chinese university graduates in all government departments, so that Malaysians holding these qualifications can fully participate in the economic and industrial development of the country.

It is the usual rejoinder on the part of the government, when the question of recognition of Nanyang, Formosan and Chinese university degrees is brought up, to say that this is a racial issue and that whoever brings it up is just trying to make racialist appeals.

Let me rebut this argument. Firstly, the fate and future of 8,000 Malaysians holding Nanyang Formosan and other Chinese universities is not a racial or sectional problem, but a national problem.

No government can disclaim responsibility for the fate and future of these 8,000 graduates. The Alliance government is directly responsible for this problem, for these 8,000 Malaysians had to go abroad for further studies because the government denied and still deny them opportunities for higher education in their homeland – Malaysia.

Secondly, I am not unconcerned about the problem faced by Malaysians holding Indian, Indonesian and Middle East universities which are not recognised by the government. I suggest that they should all be given a chance to be recognised, and take their full place in Malaysian society. My party has more than once gone on record calling on government recognition of these degrees and qualifications as well.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, Sir, this problem of non-recognition of Nanyang and Formosan university degrees have been allowed to fester for too long a time. If the government shirks its responsibility to find a satisfactory solution to this problem, then the people must conclude that the government has failed to look after the interests and welfare of all sections of Malaysians.