Ramasamy: There’s nothing in the Fed Constitution that prohibits non-Bumiputera admission into UiTM

I QUITE agree with the Lawyers of Liberty director Zaid Malek that there is nothing in the law that prohibits non-Bumiputera students from being accepted for the post-graduate training in cardiac thoracic training at Universiti Teknoloji Mara (UiTM).

Article 153 of the Federal Constitution is being misused to say that only Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak can be admitted on the basis of the special prerogative of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPOA).

Reading Article 153 makes it clear that while the Bumiputera should be empowered, there is nothing in the legal provision to prohibit non-Bumiputera from being considered.

Article 153 makes it very clear that the Agong can make provisions for the entry of the non-Bumiputera students if there is a need.

Some UiTM students wore black attire recently as a mark of protest to the proposal to admit non-Bumiputera into the higher learning institution.On this matter, the advice of the government in power in advising the YDPA becomes relevant.

However, there is a regrettable situation in the country where politicians citing Article 153 fail to mention the discretionary powers of the YDPA and the advice of the government in power to make the necessary adjustments to the constitutional provision.

Those who oppose the admission of non-Bumiputera into the post-graduate cardiac thoracic training programme at UiTM tend politically to consider the Article 153 as frozen in time and space.

UiTM can admit foreigners

They fail to explain the discretionary powers of the YDPA on the advice of the government in power to adopt a flexible admission policy in the larger interest of the well-being of the nation.

There is currently an acute shortfall of cardiac thoracic surgeons in the country. Recently, a medical doctor revealed that a pregnant woman died because there was no cardiac thoracic surgeon to attend to her.

Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy

Unfortunately and tragically, however, politicians in the country are blindly invoking the constitutional provision to block the entry of non-Bumiputera students.

The unity government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim – by passing the buck to the YDPA – is pretending that the government has no role on the matter of admission of non-Bumiputera.

The fact that the government has the right to advise the YDPA is completely lost in the whirlpool of zero-sum racial politics.

It is not about who gains and who doesn’t but the lack of cardiac thoracic surgeons that affects the health and well-being of all Malaysians, both Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera.

By the way, is there a constitutional provision that enables UiTM to recruit international students who are not taxpayers? Aren’t the non-Bumiputera citizens of the country and taxpayers as well?

While Bersatu Youth has objected to the admission of the non-Bumiputera, the government is observing a deafening silence on the matter.

The government is afraid that the opening of the admission might affect its political credibility among the Malays. It is thus prepared to observe the opportunistic silence and non-action.

In the worst situation, the responsibility will be assigned to the YDPA. Mind you, we have been reminded time and again that there is a reformist government in office.

Essentially, there are no reforms but a government that seek to reinforce the existing ethnic and religious cleavages to stay in power.

Reforms are virtually dead in the country under the Madani government. – May 19, 2024


Former DAP stalwart and Penang chief minister II Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is chairman of the Urimai (United Rights of Malaysian Party) Interim Council.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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