I wrote an article with the title “Don’t let political struggle take down TARC” in this column on November 29 last year. In the article, I concluded that politics is not about fighting for supremacy. If we really must compare, we should compare who has done a better job. Any fight involving politics must not drag education into the picture.
One year has since passed and we continue to get embroiled in the controversies over whether politics should stay out of education at all. There is no need of separating education from politics if political intervention is non-existent in the first place.
As a matter of fact, we should have mustered all the strength we can employ regardless of political affiliation, including the government and political parties on both sides of the divide, to develop our education sector.
For the past several decades, the local Chinese community has been able to develop the Chinese language education in the country thanks to the non-partisan concerted efforts of DAP, MCA, Gerakan Rakyat and large and small local Chinese associations. We did it yesterday, and should be able to do the same today and tomorrow.
Unfortunately, the development of UTAR/TAR UC today is not being bogged down by Umno or PPBM but ourselves, Chinese Malaysians!
DAP veteran Liew Ah Kim has made frequent advice lately to party leadership through videos posted on his Facebook account, but much of this has fallen on deaf ears.
This is what Liew had to say about the UTAR/TAR UC issue in his latest post:
“There is one thing I would like to tell the democratic fighters: you must estimate that the grenade you are going to throw will hit the enemies and not yourself. When we talk about separating education from politics, we need to come to the full realisation that different issues may yield very different conclusions under democratic and undemocratic political systems. Simply put, will a more dominant race respect the views of the less dominant race when they talk about politics, education or economy? It is utterly unwise for either of two equally less dominant parties to act as if it is more dominant than the other, because you will eventually lose the people’s support. Unless you are prepared for far worse consequences, you should always look before you leap!”
People who lack the wisdom will never see far beyond them.
On the UTAR issue, while it appears that MCA is being beaten, it is the Malaysian Chinese community that actually gets bruised. Anyone familiar with the bitter history of the Chinese community will tell you that TARC has become the common legacy of the Malaysian Chinese community right from the very first day it was established.
The Chinese community came out with the money to set up TARC with the hope it would help the Chinese students rejected by public universities under the country’s quota system. For the past 50 over years, TARC has not disappointed the Chinese community, and has so far produced more than 200,000 competent professionals in various fields.
In order to punish MCA, DAP has inadvertently penalised UTAR/TAR UC and many poor Chinese students who look to it for further education opportunities.
MCA is at best just an initiator of TARC and has backed off soon after the college was fully set up, delegating the management powers to educational professionals.
From what we understand, although eight of the nine trustees are MCA leaders, they have never taken a single cent from the institution. The college’s management and students should know very well whether there is any intervention from MCA or whether political elements have been introduced to the school.
TARC Education Foundation Secretary Ong Whee Tiong has said in a statement that TAR UC is wholly owned by TEF, a public company limited by guarantee and closely monitored by the domestic trade and consumer affairs ministry, education ministry and finance ministry through the Inland Revenue Board.
Ong said there are four layers of governance in TAR UC. Firstly there is a CEO whose appointment must be approved by the education ministry and who is solely responsible for the operation of TAR UC under the guidance of the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 and the second layer of governance which includes five representatives from the education ministry and one from the finance ministry.
The third layer of governance consists of trustees whose position is similar to that of directors, but are known as trustees on the grounds that TEF is a non-profit foundation. They are primarily responsible for the statutory compliance with the Companies Act 2016, Income Tax Act 1967, Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 (Act 555) and other relevant acts.
This is followed by the fourth layer of governance which consists of members of the foundation. Trustees and foundation members are performing their duties strictly on a voluntary basis and they do not receive any benefits. This is to ensure that the foundation’s objectives are carried out and not derailed by those with ulterior motives.
Now, who owns TAR UC? Ong pointed out that TEF’s constitution has specified that in the event the foundation were to be wound up, all its assets must be donated to the government or another foundation approved by the IRB, hence the real beneficial owners are the government and the public, not the founders of the foundation. The founders and subsequent trustees are merely acting as trustees.
The Chinese community has already conveyed a strong and clear message through the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election results, but such a message has sadly been ignored by some.
The Chinese community used to believe that the government would understand the needs of the people and would review its decisions after the by-election results were released. The thing is, be it UTAR/TAR UC or the recognition of UEC certificate, it has become obvious now these issues are much tougher than they appear.
Education is a long-term project for the well-being of our future generations. Instead of arguing endlessly over it, why not put our prejudices aside and join hands to develop UTAR/TAR UC?
Although UTAR/TAR UC was a brainchild of MCA, it has now become the common legacy of Malaysia’s Chinese community. Forcing MCA to cut its ties with UTAR/TAR UC does not go well with our traditional Chinese culture.
Source : KTEMOC