PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Harapan's plans to recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) does not bode well with Umno, with its vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob (pic) labelling the education certificate as a "unity destroying agent".
In a terse statement, Ismail accused plans to recognise the UEC as a conspiracy by several Chinese political parties to pressure the Pakatan-led government to gradually do away with the bumiputra rights policy.
"In conclusion, the UEC is an 'unity destroying agent'. Therefore, it needs to be opposed for not conforming to the National Education Policy," Ismail said in a statement issued Friday (July 13).
Ismail's remarks came following a statement by Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik on Thursday (July 12), who pledged to recognise the UEC as a legitimate entry requirement for tertiary studies (in local public universities).
Ismail, in opposing Dr Maszlee's statement, claimed that the UEC was an instrument to widen the gap between races in the country.
According to Ismail, the UEC does not follow the National Education Policy, as he claimed that its examination model is prepared by the administration of the respective Chinese vernacular schools, instead of the Education Ministry's Examination Board.
He pointed out that the Bahasa Malaysia subject under the UEC has lower standards compared with the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), adding that other subjects had used a Taiwanese examination model and is taught in Mandarin.
"I'm confident that Malays in general will oppose to this certificate because it will lower the standards of public schools, which will as a result, pose a challenge for our graduates to enter the job market."
If the UEC is recognised, Ismail said students holding the UEC certificate will be able to obtain jobs in Government departments, which will increase competition for SPM graduates to find employment in the civil service.
"This special treatment to UEC is not fair to SPM graduates," he added.
Ismail argued that the UEC is not compatible with the National Education Policy, as the UEC is based on a Taiwanese Examination model, while the local education syllabus uses Bahasa Malaysia as its main language.
"The complete usage of Mandarin in the UEC clearly undermines Bahasa Malaysia as the national language as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
"For the sake of unity and Malaysia, one language must be used because language reflects race," he added.
The issue of recognising the UEC has been a contentious debate among Malaysians from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds over the previous years.
The previous government said it did not recognise the UEC as those Chinese secondary schools concerned do not follow the national education curriculum and its students lacked proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia.
As the UEC is not recognised by the previous Barisan Nasional government, holders of the education certificate are unable to enrol in public universities.
The education certification is conducted by independent Chinese schools and is equivalent to the SPM.
At present, UEC school-leavers can apply for the National Higher Education Fund Corporation loans for their tertiary studies, as well as enrol in local teachers' training colleges and local private colleges and universities.
In Sarawak, UEC holders can work in the state civil service and enter the public universities there.