Umno’s member of parliament Tan Sri Annuar Musa claimed that he would bring the matter of UEC recognition to the Parliament.

While Annuar will bring up this matter in his capacity as an MP and not the information chief of Umno, his cordial dialogue with the leaders of Dong Zong and a local independent Chinese high school and his move to table the motion of UEC recognition in the Dewan Rakyat, prove that he is the first senior Umno leader who has made a historic move for Chinese education in this country, which is set to bring positive effects and is highly commendable.

Since the UEC certificates were first awarded by independent Chinese high schools in the country in 1975, for more than four decades they have made repeated pleas to the government to recognize the certificate.

And the government has more than once promised to study this issue although no decision has yet to be made so far, much to the frustration of the local Chinese community.

As Annuar has said, the government must seriously look into the UEC issue immediately, as Chinese education forms an integral part of the country’s cultural diversity, and independent Chinese high school students being Malaysian citizens deserve to be treated with fairness.

Annuar visited Chong Hwa Independent High School in KL late last year to personally understand its dual track education system. He subsequently visited Dong Zong in February and had a heart-to-heart talk with the association’s leadership on issues pertaining to UEC recognition. These two visits have given Annuar a better idea of the country’s independent Chinese education. He is not only impressed by the exceptional quality of education of the school, more importantly his perception of independent Chinese education has since changed.

Many Umno leaders have hit out at UEC because of their own prejudices, misunderstandings, or their own narrow-minded racist mindset alone, making UEC recognition a highly sensitive racial issue.

Malaysia is a multicultural country and the eucation issues of individual ethnic communities must be treated as issues of all Malaysians. Since the government is willing to recognize religious schools, why not UEC?

UEC is recognized by established universities in Singapore and many other countries, and its teaching quality is comparable to that of foreign qualifications. Why then should the government be worried about it? It’s all because of politics.

It is now time to fully address the UEC issue. UEC is currently accepted by all private tertiary institutions in the country, and is as one of the criteria for PTPTN application and admission into teachers’ training colleges. Nevertheless, if the government would recognize it as an equivalent of STPM, and allow independent Chinese high school students with SPM Bahasa Malaysia to be admitted into local public universities, we should be able to keep our talented young people in the country.

In view of the fact that China is fast rising as an economic powerhouse, the economic value of the Chinese language is significantly boosted and we need more than ever people who have a good command of this language here.

Among the 13 BN component parties, Umno is the only one against the recognition of UEC. As a matter of fact, most of those who are against UEC have hardly tried to understand the actual situation of independent Chinese education in this country, denying it wholly from their racist or political standpoint.

It is hoped that we will see more Umno leaders like Annuar Musa who would pay a personal visit to an independent high school ad get to understand the importance of Chinese education to the country’s development, so that they will see Chinese education in a more open-minded and accommodating attitude.