Students take an examination on an open-air playground at a high school in Yichuan, Shaanxi province April 11, 2015. More than 1,700 freshmen students took part in the exam on Saturday, which was the first attempt by the school to take it in open-air. The school said the reasons was due to the insufficient indoor space and also that it could be a test of the students' organizing capacity, local media reported. Picture taken April 11, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Since the special committee on the recognition of UEC was set up last November, it has so far met up with several organizations and individuals in the education industry.

According to the committee’s chairman Eddin Khoo, those he had met were not as resistant as we thought. On the contrary, he said they were willing to talk about the issue, which is indeed a good news for the ultimate recognition of UEC.

The local Chinese community has been fighting very hard for UEC recognition all these years. Prior to GE14, Pakatan Harapan promised to recognize UEC if it won the elections. Unfortunately, nothing much has been done to this day.

The government has later set up a special committee to explore the issue and listen to the views of the public before submitting a complete and comprehensive report to the cabinet.

One thing we must admit is that UEC recognition is indeed facing very tough challenges and is never as straightforward as we might have imagined.

Although the Chinese community has shown a lot of enthusiasm to get UEC recognized by the government, the Malay society seems to think otherwise.

Khoo pointed out that whether the government would eventually recognize the UEC qualification is not an administrative issue or a matter of honoring an election pledge. In its stead, it is a highly complicated perception and racial issue.

As a matter of fact, UEC recognition has been made complicated with a lot of non-educational factors thrown in.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad mentioned earlier that the problem of the Malays is much larger than UEC recognition itself. But even with all the hindrances, the PH government has the obligation to remove the obstacles and walk the final mile because this is exactly what it has promised the Chinese community.

The good news is that those against UEC are not as unbending as we may think. Eddin Khoo said these people are actually willing to talk, and indeed some of them are sending their children to Chinese schools, showing that they have faith in the quality of Chinese school education.

Because of a lack of understanding and misguidance from irresponsible politicians, many non-Chinese Malaysians have grown suspicious of UEC, especially with some politicians and organizations promoting distorted information about it.

Generally speaking, non-Chinese are against UEC recognition mainly because they think it is an obstacle to national unity as it emphasizes the history of China, among other things.

Such misunderstanding needs to be dispelled. The government and Chinese educational organizations alike must effectively explain the truth to the non-Chinese community so that they have a better understanding of UEC and independent Chinese schools, for the simple reason frank discussions and common understanding on UEC are only possible if they are established upon the basis of truth.

The special committee on UEC is still doing its work of public consultation. It is hoped that the committee will complete its report as soon as possible for submission to the cabinet so that he government can ultimately fulfill its election pledge of recognizing UEC.

Eddin Khoo: UEC more of a perception issue

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PETALING JAYA (Sin Chew Daily) — Eddin Khoo, chairman of the special committee on Unified Examination Certificate (UEC), said UEC recognition is a highly complicated perception and racial issue, not just a matter of administration and honoring an election pledge.

During an interview with Sin Chew Daily, Khoo said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has sufficient political will to recognize UEC, or he wouldn’t have established this special committee to study and compile data on UEC.

“When Tun Mahathir tells you we need to take care of the feelings of the Malays, that does not mean he is not willing to recognize UEC. He is just telling you this is the problem, and indeed it is a perception issue.

“Many people are totally unaware of the problem of recognizing UEC. I think Malaysians should understand that this is a racial issue which happens to be at the center of our racist politics, totally unrelated to education itself.

Irresponsible politicians

“Many people, especially the Malays, do not understand the truth. In addition, politicians have also been very irresponsible in promoting incorrect information.”

Khoo said it is necessary for the special committee on UEC to submit a comprehensive report to the government.

He said the committee has so far met 25 organizations and individuals, and will travel around the country to meet more in order to listen to their views on UEC recognition, adding that it will also listen to media companies’ suggestions in future before drawing up a very detailed report.

“We all agree that the country’s education system is in a mess. Parents are looking for alternatives and we cannot keep insisting the national education curriculum without doing anything to improve the country’s education system,” he asserted.

Khoo said many people do not actually resist UEC but they have conditions, such as the status of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language.

– Mysinchew