Why still no non-Malays appointed as Vice Chancellors of Malaysian universities?

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, 30th May 1994:

Why still no non-Malays appointed as Vice Chancellors of Malaysian universities?

The Government has announced the appointment of two new University Vice Chancellors in the country – the appointments of Dr. Ahmad Zaharudin Idrus as the new vice chancellor of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and the Prof. Datuk Dr. Syed Jalaludin Syed Salim as the new vice chancellor of Universiti Pertanian Malaysia.

In March this year, the Government appointed the new Vice Chancellor for Univeisiti Malaya – Datuk Dr. Abdullah Sanusi Ahmad who took over from Datuk Dr. Taib Osman.

The question uppermost in the minds of many Malaysians must be, why still no non-Malays appointed as Vice Chancellors of Malaysian universities?

I had raised this issue in the Parliament recently, and it is most regrettable that Cabinet Ministers, in particular from MCA and Gerakan, have failed to take serious note of this matter and ensured that the great injustice of over thirty years where not a single non-Malay Malaysian had been appointed a University Vice Chancellor would have been rectified.

What is even more regrettable is that when I raised this issue in Parliament, the MCA Deputy Education Minister, Dr, Fong Chan Onn, defended the system instead of giving an undertaking that the Government would rectify the great injustice to non-Malay academicians and would appoint non-Malay Malaysians as University Vice Chancellors in future.

Surely, no one in the Barisan Nasional is suggesting that in the past 30 years, there had not been a single non-Malay academician who had been qualified to be appointed a university Vice Chancellor in the country.

Malaysians still remember the case of Professor Wang Gungwu, who was lecturing in – Universiti Malaya in the 1960s, and who has now become the Vice Chancellor of the Hong Kong University. If Wang Gungwu had remained in Malaysia, he would have remained a university lecturer through the seventies, eighties and even the nineties!

This is an example of the great difference between the minor and limited liberalisation of nation-building policies presently undertaken by the Barisan Nasional government and the DAP’s call for full and major liberalisation of nation-building policies.

This is also a real test whether the favourite Chinese saying of the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, that ‘We All Belong To One Family’ is also the guiding philosophy of government policies.

Under the full and open liberalisation of nation-building policies advocated by the DAP, appointments as university vice-chancellors and all government positions, whether, Chief Justice, Lord President, Inspector-General of Police, Chief Secretary, Secretary-General of Ministries, heads of departments, school principals, etc. would be based strictly on merit and all Malaysians will be treated as ‘All Belonging to One Family’.

Can the Government give an assurance that non-Malay Malaysians will be appointed to fill the next two vacancies for university Vice Chancellor posts in the country?