PETALING JAYA: Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (pic) should not link issues surrounding the matriculation intake quota with language requirements for jobs as these two are distinct", says the Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet).
Its co-president Gan Ping Sieu said the first issue was if the 9:1 quota system was merited, and the second was about an individual's skill set.
"As Education Minister, Dr Maszlee should understand that language is a job skill. It is market forces that determine if a person is employable. Language requirement is just one skill set," said its co-president Gan Ping Sieu.
"Knowing a particular language alone doesn't guarantee one a job – just as not knowing that language doesn't necessarily deny one a job," he said in a statement on Saturday (May 18).
Gan said this following Dr Maszlee's remarks claiming that if Malaysians do not want the matriculation quota system, then job opportunities should not be denied to bumiputra because they do not speak Chinese.
Dr Maszlee had also claimed that some companies required job applicants to have knowledge of Mandarin.
Gan added that Dr Maszlee was "treading on thin ice by conflating the issues", adding that it not only contained racial elements but could be emotionally charged.
He said it was unnecessary to issue statements that can heighten sentiments when it was a time to "lower the political temperature".
"As a group that promotes moderation, we take a strong stand against words or deeds that will worsen race relations in this country.
"In fact, as Education Minister, he ought to play a key role in fostering unity starting from schools. There is no need to take cheap political shots which are divisive," he said.
Gan urged Dr Maszlee to instead look into preparing graduates to be more employable by arming them with skill sets that meet modern day job requirements.
Dr Maszlee's remarks has also been criticised by Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy for linking the matriculation quota system with the unequal job opportunities for bumiputras in the private sector.