I WOULD like to congratulate The Star for publishing the bold letter about the absence of non-Malay vice-chancellors in public universities (“Appoint non-Malays as university vice-chancellors”, June 12, 2021). The letter is particularly pertinent as it comes from the highly experienced and regarded journalist Datuk Seri Azman Ujang.
I would like to add the following points to those that he raised:
> It is a poor reflection on our education policy that there is no non-Malay vice-chancellor among public universities 64 years after Merdeka. What does this say about national unity, meritocracy and building a multiracial society?
> This unbalanced racial mix is seen right across the board in this country. For instance, it is present in the civil service with its 1.6 million staff members (who are paid with our taxes) as well as the large number of government-linked corporations (also supported by public funds) whose upper echelons are largely comprised of one race.
> As I said at an Intan (National Institute of Public Administration) conference once when I was a civil servant, this racial bias breeds a sense of alienation among the comparatively few non-Malays in public service.
> A civil service dominated by one race also cultivates a sense of non-belonging and less national pride and patriotism among non-Malays who feel marginalised in our own country.
It is therefore most timely to make a new start at strengthening national unity by appointing some outstanding non-Malay vice-chancellors in public universities. This new initiative could then be followed by making new appointments in all areas of public service, including – and especially – in Sabah and Sarawak.
Such a fair policy would make all Malaysians feel proud of our country and even more patriotic.
TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Chairman, Asli (Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute) Centre for Public Policy Studies