Undergraduates from several local universities yesterday staged a rally to protest against Putrajaya’s plan to recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC).
The demonstration, which took place in front of Sogo shopping mall in downtown Kuala Lumpur, was organised by Gabungan Mahasiswa Islam SeMalaysia (GAMIS).
Earlier, the protesters congregated at Masjid Negara and attempted to march to the shopping complex but were stopped in their tracks by a team of Federal Reserve Unit personnel at about 2pm.
The police told the organisers to stop the march but later allowed the group to gather in front of Sogo at about 3pm.
A video shared by GAMIS on Facebook shows the protesters clad mostly in black with red headbands chanting “Hidup rakyat” (Long live the people) and “Bantah UEC” (Oppose UEC) during the protest.
“We are here today, not because we are racist, but because we want to uphold our national education system,” an unidentified speaker at the rally said.
According to Utusan Malaysia, most of the participants were students from Universiti Malaya, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Putra Malaysia.
GAMIS president Faizuddin Mohd Zai said the UEC should not be recognised as the national education system was still relevant.
“We will hold a nationwide roadshow and collect signatures for a petition at university campuses,” he told reporters, adding that the petition will be submitted to the government.
Faizuddin also claimed the recognition of the school-leaving certificate for entry into public universities and the civil service could fracture national unity.
“UEC could worsen national unity. The different use of language could lead to segregation among the races.
“As a people of different religions, views and culture, the use of the national language is what ties us together, he said.
GAMIS deputy president Imran Baharuddin also voiced his concern about the recognition of UEC, claiming that it would further polarise the nation.
“We do not want to see Chinese students only mingle with Chinese students and Malay students only hang around with other Malay students. That is unhealthy for national unity,’’ he said.
The rally also aimed to show support to Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, whom Faizzuddin said might have been pressured to recognise the UEC.
“We also want to show our support to the education minister. Don’t be afraid as we are with you, as well as 7,000 other students who have voiced their support for you,’’ said Faizzudin.
He added that the protest went without a hitch, though there were a few incidents of protesters being pushed by unknown parties.
Meanwhile, Dang Wangi deputy police chief Superintendent Rudy Abdullah said a total of 65 police officers were deployed to monitor the protest, which ended at 5pm.
“No individuals were arrested and the protesters cooperated with the police,” he said.
Utusan Malaysia quoted Rudy as saying that police would “investigate the true motive of the rally.”
The UEC, which is issued to graduates of Chinese independent high schools, is currently recognised by local private higher education institutions and many universities overseas, as well as the Sarawak government.
In its election manifesto, Pakatan Harapan pledged that the UEC can be used for entry into public higher education institutions “provided that applicants have a credit in Bahasa Malaysia at the SPM level.”