On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Keep politics out of proposed varsity

Although the college is owned by the MCA, there is no
place for politics within the campus.

The students are aware their priority is to study, get their diplomas or
degrees, and gain employment.

They can join any political party, if they are keen, after getting their

After three decades, with TAR college's proven track record of producing over
60,000 graduates, it is a natural progression for the MCA to set up a

Though there are already 14 public universities, six private universities and
three foreign branch campuses in the country, the setting up of Universiti
Tunku Abdul Rahman would help ease the continuing demand for places in local
institutions of higher learning.

Each year, we read of bright young Malaysians who are unable to enter local
universities because of limited space.

The quota system has further added pressure on our universities and the
Education Ministry in coping with the demands for places in faculties such as
medicine, dentistry, engineering and computer science.

With the setting up of Utar, it is hoped Malaysia will not lose these talents

Malaysia needs the contribution of intelligent Malaysians and every effort must
be made to stop this brain drain.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad must be commended for his
openness in approving the setting up of Utar.

It is thus most regrettable that critics, particularly PAS and Parti Rakyat
Malaysia, are finding fault with Utar.

It is the height of hypocrisy for PAS to object to the setting up of Utar on
the grounds that it is initiated by MCA.

PAS is a known sponsor of kindergartens, religious schools and colleges, where
its politics are propagated to the students.

In universities, PAS leaders continue the indoctrination of students with its
brand of extremism.

PRM also has a steady following among non-Malay students and it is well-known
that some university lecturers openly advocate the party's politics in

There are other critics who have attacked Utar on the grounds that it is
initiated by the MCA, and nothing else. Flimsy arguments are put up to hide
their political prejudices.

Then there are also MCA members themselves, because of their quarrel with party
president Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik, who are prepared to run down Utar for
political expediency.

And there is the journalist who wrote in an Internet news website that the MCA
“thinks it does the community proud. It does not.''

The DAP, at least, feels the pulse of the Chinese community better now after
its defeat in the 1999 general election.

Misreading the mood of the community, the party partnered PAS in the fight
against the Barisan Nasional and paid a heavy political price. This time, it
has openly come out to support Utar even as PAS and PRM have stated their

Grassroots members of Chinese-based political parties, including the DAP, are
aware the community has given its endorsement to the university.

The MCA leaders must now explain that, unlike many private colleges, including
TAR, Utar would be able to grant university degrees.

It also has the potential of becoming an internationally renowned university in
the region if it has a good academic staff and the right person to head it, in
line with the Government effort to make Malaysia an education centre of

The community should not be unduly concerned about talk that colleges such as
the private New Era College would be affected if fund-raising campaigns are
carried out for Utar.

Utar should not be seen as a competitor but as a complement in the field of
education. Even if it was not mooted by MCA, other private universities would
be set up.

At present only Universiti Malaya offers courses in Chinese Studies, but with
the setting up of Utar, a similar faculty can be set up too.

As a full-fledged private university, Utar will also be able to attract many
foreign students.

Malaysians, especially the Chinese community, has high expectations of Utar and
they want the university to take off.

Malaysian leaders, particularly those claiming to represent the Chinese
community, should provide ideas on how Utar can become a reality instead of
finding fault with the proposal.

MCA leaders will come and go but Utar will remain as a hallmark of the
community's uncompromising pursuit of education.

Malaysians will certainly benefit from the programmes offered by Utar when it
is fully realised.

For the sake of our children, can we just keep politics out of Universiti Tunku
Abdul Rahman?