PETALING JAYA: Umno vice president Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid refuted Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik's claim that the previous Barisan Nasional government had only made a "one-off" offer to 2,200 Indian students to undertake matriculation courses last year.
Mahdzir said Maszlee should be ashamed of making Barisan Nasional the scapegoat to cover up the ministry's failure to offer seats to many high achievers from the Indian community this year.
Mahdzir dismissed as baseless Dr Maszlee's claim that the previous government had offered an increased number of seats to Indian students last year to fill up the bumiputra quota vacancies.
"The Barisan Nasional government was committed to helping the Indian community, that was why 1,500 seats for matriculation programmes were offered to Indian students annually since 2012.
"And on April 7 last year, I had agreed to increase the quota for Indians to 2,200. This figure would have been maintained if Barisan remained in power," said Mahdzir, who was then serving as the Education Minister.
Mahdzir said this in response to Maszlee's claim that 2,200 seats were offered to Indian students last year, as there was a need to fill up bumiputra quota vacancies.
Maszlee was responding to former deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan's claim that many Indian high achievers were not offered matriculation courses this year.
Maszlee had said that meritocracy-based intake policy for 90% bumiputra and 10% non-bumiputra would be maintained this year.
In the 2019 matriculation programme, the ministry had said that 60% of seats had been allocated to students from the lower income (B40) households, and the remaining 40% were for those from middle income (M40) and high income (T20) households.
The ministry had called on the students who did not receive offers to enter matriculation to file an appeal before April 29.
Mahdzir said in the 10-year Malaysian Indian Community Action Plan launched on April 23, 2017, the previous Barisan Nasional government had promised to increase enrollment of Indian students into public universities, colleges and polytechnic institutions by at least 7%.
Mahdzir said it was not surprising to see the Indian votes swinging back in favour of Barisan Nasional as observed in the recent Rantau by-election.
"This is because the Pakatan Harapan government had failed to safeguard the interests of the Indian community," he said.
He noted that Pakatan Harapan had yet to fulfill its promise to fully fund Tamil vernacular schools, build government-funded secondary Tamil schools, increase enrollment of Indian students into boarding schools and Maktab Rendah Sains Mara.