Dr Pamela Yong Wanita MCA Sabah Chairman
Dr Pamela Yong Wanita MCA Sabah Chairman

Kudos on Sabah’s UEC recognition but several issues must be addressed

From the outset, I would like to extend my praise to the Sabah government for recognising the United Examination Certificate (UEC); kudos to the state administration for doing something its federal counterpart has been beating about the bush for over a year.

However, Sabah is hardly the first state to do so. Four years ago, the Sarawak government, which was then a part of the BN coalition, became the first state to officially allow UEC holders to enrol in its public universities and join the state civil service. Sarawak also managed to do so by imposing minimal conditions, requiring only applicants to score credit in Bahasa Melayu at the SPM level. A game-changer.

Unlike our Borneo neighbour, Sabah will instead require a credit in BM, in addition to passing Sejarah and MUET. The passing of MUET is a non-issue; but for a very pragmatic reason, the inclusion of Sejarah becomes one.

Currently, the Education Ministry has only allowed students to take BM as a single paper for the SPM examinations with the approval of the National Examination Board. Without amending the existing system, there is no way a student could earn a Sejarah grade unless s/he sits for all examinations of the six core subjects, ergo a UEC holder will still be needing a full SPM certification. So, what exactly has changed for Sabahan UEC students who have been studying for the entire SPM examination all along? Nothing.

Moreover, public universities in Sabah follow federal guidelines and is likely outside the purview of the state government, which create yet another problem. As long as the Education Minister continues to mince his words over UEC, Shafie Apdal’s announcement that UEC holders could now enrol in local universities means little and changes less for Sabahans.

In short, the Sabah government recognition of UEC appears lackadaisical at best.

There is also the suspicion that the timely “good” news is simply crumbs thrown out to temporarily appease the voters. After all, it has strangely coincided with the upcoming Tanjung Piai by-election which reminds us that PH has an excellent track record of manifesting consistent, seemingly fortuitous, glad tidings whenever an election bears upon us. For instance, the ECRL reroute and reduction in fuel price ceiling in the past two by-elections.

Hopefully, Sabah will go on to demonstrate its sincerity to put aside race politics and recognise UEC in the near future by addressing some of the issues posed by the requirements and existing system.

Dr Pamela Yong
Wanita MCA Sabah Chairman

The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of New Malaysia Herald.

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