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  • Maszlee's conservative replies to questions on UEC and allocations backfire, as voters no longer gauge him with the same kind of yardstick now.

Sin Chew Daily

Education minister Dr Maszlee Malik and his deputy Teo Nie Ching have been having conflicting views over the recognition of UEC of late.

The minister says it will be done in "five years' time", which contradict the deputy minister's "within this year" assurance.

The local Chinese community and educationists are worried this will signal a long and uncertain journey towards the eventual recognition of UEC.

Why such contradiction? The question lies with which side of the line PH leaders now stand.

When Teo was an opposition politician, she slammed the authorities fearlessly, but after she has been appointed a deputy minster, she has come to realize the complexity of red tapes and sensitivity of a multicultural society.

The public view a deputy minister in a different way from how they perceive an opposition rep. A cabinet member has to honor his or her promises and words, and face the constant grilling from the public.

A scholar turned minister, Maszlee is confronted by an enormous and highly intricate department with a ramification of ancillary units that require a lot more than a hundred days to get fully familiarized.

A rule of thumb for Malaysia's public service system is that everything goes by the book. Rules that have been set cannot be changed deliberately. A PH minister needs to go by the guidelines to change an existing rule, not as simple as changing the white shoes to the black ones.

Maszlee and Teo are eager to deliver the change promised to the voters under PH's election manifesto, before they even get acquainted with the ministry they now helm. Their subordinates do not think the same way as they.

In fact, political manifesto and administrative rules are two very different things, and any intended change has to be implemented step by step.

So, Maszlee's conservative replies to questions on UEC and allocations backfire, as voters no longer gauge him with the same kind of yardstick now. Maszlee and Teo need to learn how to be good government leaders to fend off accusations and assaults from the opposition and public.

What was Maszlee talking about when he said he needed five years to study the UEC issue? He said he needed to get the views from relevant departments and take into account the status of Bahasa Malaysia and interracial harmony. But, why five years? Perhaps Maszlee needs to offer a more reasonable explanation.

Indeed. we cannot deny that the Malay community has a lot of misunderstanding about UEC and independent Chinese high schools, but such misunderstanding can be dissolved quite easily. Maszlee can strive to understand this issue and organize candid dialogues with relevant stakeholders, not unlike the UEC forum at Universiti Malaya last week.

Meanwhile, the Chinese community and educational organizations have very important roles to play, too. Other than insisting their stance on early recognition of UEC, they should also make an effort to step into the non-Chinese community in a bid to allay their fears and concerns while trying to establish mutual trust.

Dong Zong, in particular, has not done enough on this matter. If their official website is in Chinese only, how do we expect non-Chinese to have a clearer understanding of UEC and independent high schools?

Dong Zong shouldn't just wait for the government's action but should have a comprehensive strategy to tackle issues that may arise from the recognition of UEC, such as: will independent high schools remain independent after UEC recognition and how it will affect the UEC examinations?



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