“Last Wednesday, during the winding-up of the debate on the 1997 budgetary estimates for the Education Ministry, the Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Khalid Yunus gave a shock announcement on the status of Dong Jiao Zong’s application for the establishment of the New Era College when he said:
“When I interjected to ask about this new requirement, and whether there is flexibility for such a requirement, the Deputy Education Minister said that private institutions of higher learning which had been set up before the coming into force of the Private Higher Education Institutions Act 1996 are not affected by this new requirement for at least 30 per cent bumiputra equity participation, but all new private institutions of higher learning to be established under the new law would be affected.
“When I pursued the matter and asked under what regulation such a requirement had been imposed, how the Barisan Nasional component parties could have agreed to such an “unfair condition” for the establishment of private higher education institutions, the Deputy Education Minister responded that it is in the Private Higher Education Institutions Act 1996 as well as in the regulations made thereunder.
“What the Deputy Education Minister said is untrue, for I have checked with the Ministry of Education which had confirmed that although regulations under the Private Education Institutions Act 1996 are being drafted, no regulation had been finalised, approved or gazetted.
“Furthermore, there is nothing in the Private Higher Education Institutions (PHEI) Act 1996 which imposed the requirement that a private higher education institution has to comply with the condition of 30 per cent bumiputera equity participation.
“This is the latest reason given by the Education Ministry to refuse to approve the establishment of New Era College, which had been submitted before the April 1995 general elections, and is an act of bad faith as the Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn had said on 31st October 1996 that there would be no problem in the granting of approval by the Education Ministry, after the application had been revised on his advice.
“Parliament should take immediate cognisance of this issue, as the refusal to approve the New Era College runs counter to the objective of the Second Industrial Master Plan (IMP2) which was launched by the Prime Minister last Thursday, where one of the five critical elements of economic foundation is human resource development, and should have an immediate debate to ask the Government to give immeidate approval for the establishment of the New Era College for four other reasons:
“Firstly, New Era College is a non-profit college supported by the Chinese community and an important contribution to higher education and the training of qualified human resources in the country - just as the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the other Barisan Nasional Government leaders had belatedly acknowledged during the 1995 general elections that the 60 Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in Malaysia had made great contribution to national development and nation-building all these years.
“Secondly, full recognition of the multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-cultural character of Malaysia by promoting mother-tongue education up to university level and be a regional centre of educational excellence for mother-tongue education.
“Thirdly, the government should not commit bad faith by rejecting the New Era College on the ground of a new requirement of 30 per cent bumiputra equity participation when the MCA Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn had publicly indicated that New Era College would be approved.
“Fourthly, the Education Ministry cannot use a requirement which has no legal basis, either in the Private Higher Education Institutions Act or any regulation under the Act, to refuse to approve the establishment orf the New Era College.
“In any event, as Dong Jiao Zong first submitted its application for the establishment of the New Era College before the April 1995 general elections - well before the PHEIA was introduced in Parliament in January this year - no new unfair requirements should be imposed on it.”