by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung. Lira Kit Siang, in Penang on Friday, 23rd July 1993:
Is the government announcement of ‘total recognition or Taiwan medical degrees’ a genuine recognition or just a political gimmick?
After the joy at the long-awaited government recognition of Taiwan medical degrees, Malaysian graduates from Taiwan universities are having second thoughts as to whether there is anything to rejoice about.
Two days ago, the Health Minister, Datuk Lee Kim Sai announced that the Cabinet has decided to accord ‘total recognition’ to Taiwan medical degrees. However, on close scrutiny, this ‘total recognition’ of Taiwan medical degrees is not that ‘total’ after all, but subject to the approval of the Degrees Evaluation Committee of the Ministry of Education.
Malaysians are entitled to ask as whether this announcement of ‘total recognition’ of Taiwan medical degrees is a genuine recognition or a mere political gimmick.
This is the first time in Malaysian history that the Government, has announced recognition of foreign university degrees which are still subject to the decision of the Evaluation Committee of the Education Ministry. This means that if the Taiwan medical degrees do not pass the evaluation of the Evaluation Committee, they will remain unrecognised. Furthermore, such evaluation process can take years if not decades – and may not be completed even in year 2,020.
In the past, the government only announced recognition of foreign university degrees when it is ready to accord instant recognition – after the Evaluation Committee of the Education Ministry had given its recommendation for approval.
However, in the case of Taiwan medical degrees, the Cabinet has put the cart, before the horse, and announced that, the government would give ‘total recognition’ to Taiwan medical degrees if they secure the approval of the Evaluation Committee of the Education Ministry.
In fact, the position of Taiwan medical degrees is no different from all unrecognised foreign university degrees, for they would all be given ‘total recognition1 if they are given the approval by the Evaluation Committee of the Education Ministry.
All that the Taiwan medical degrees can claim probably is that they are a higher class of unrecognised foreign degrees – in that the Cabinet, has said that they would be recognised if they pass the Evaluation Committee, although their status is no different from all other- unrecognised foreign degrees.
DAP does not want the recognition of Taiwan medical degrees to be a political gimmick, but. a genuine one. As a first step, the Cabinet should give the Evaluation Committee of the Education Ministry a five-month deadline expiring on December 31 1993 to complete its evaluation of all Taiwan medical degrees and decide on whether these degrees are to be recognised or remain unrecognised.
If not, this issue will be another repetition of the notorious 1986 general elections MCA pledge that Clause 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act would be repealed in the first Parliamentary meeting. More than seven years have passed, and this MCA solemn pledge is still unfulfilled!