There is still hope that the contentious Unified Exam Certificate (UEC) will be recognised by the Perikatan Nasional government despite recent setbacks, said the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong).
Hua Zong president Goh Tian Chuan said proponents of the UEC need to find a solution on the touchy issue that is acceptable to all Malaysians.
Goh said in a July 16 meeting with Muhyiddin Yassin, the prime minister neither accepted nor rejected the group’s request for UEC recognition.
“How can the UEC be accepted by all? Especially in the context of national education, (it) depends on the country’s leaders, ministers, Dong Zong and the Chinese community.
“It needs to be a concerted effort by all to look for a consensus to resolve this issue,” he told The Malaysian Insight recently.
“During the meeting, the prime minister did not recognise nor reject the UEC but said it was a contentious issue and the current situation of the country needs to be considered, and it needs to be further studied so a win-win solution can be found.
“On that, Hua Zong agrees. We live in a multiracial and multicultural society and in our struggles, we must avoid going to extremes and act according to the country’s situation,” Goh said.
The equivalent of the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), the UEC is an exam held in private Chinese secondary schools.
Malay nationalists in Umno, PN’s dominant party, oppose recognition of the UEC, regarding it as a threat to the position of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language.
After years of trying with Barisan Nasional governments, Chinese educationist felt they had a winning chance when the Pakatan Harapan coalition won the 14th general election.
PH promised to push for government recognition of the UEC if it won GE14.
The coalition then formed a task force to look into issues regarding its recognition and how it can fit into the national education system.
However, work on the task force’s final report and its proposals were temporarily shelved due to the movement-control order (MCO) that began in March.
Eddin Khoo, who heads the task force, said the team resumed work on the report at the end of July but declined to confirm when the document will be ready.
“We have to go through various internal processes and channels first before submitting the report to the cabinet,” Khoo said.
In 2015, Sarawak was the first to recognise the certificate, allowing those who hold the certificate to work in the civil service and study at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.
Penang, Selangor, Sabah and Malacca have since also recognised the qualification for entry into the civil service and state government-controlled tertiary education institutions.
When PH was deposed by PN in late February, Goh and his team met Muhyiddin.
“We submitted a memorandum that contained 15 topics to the prime minister. Recognition for the UEC was one of the topics as this is an issue the Chinese community is concerned about,” he said.
Political commentator Cheah See Kian said PN faced the same problems as previous administrations in that there is no consensus on getting it recognised.
“If it was already difficult to reach a consensus when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was prime minister (of the PH government), how will it be different with Muhyiddin?
“From the BN government to PH, UEC recognition has always been used to get Chinese support. But it is a difficult balancing act to achieve.
“Once you get into power, it becomes a long road ahead,” he said. – TMI