Varsity could maintain Bumiputera quota while offering temporary pathway to address shortage of cardiothoracic surgeons

GEORGE TOWN: Bersatu associate wing chief Dr Chong Fat Full has suggested that Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) should cease admitting foreign students to uphold the UiTM Act 1976 (Act 173).

“If UiTM is genuinely committed to adhering to their interpretation of the UiTM Act, then it should contemplate refusing admission to all foreign students as well,” he told theSun.

ALSO READ: ‘No proposal to admit non-Bumiputera into UiTM’

Chong said this following recent suggestions by the Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Azizan Abdul Aziz to extend the eligibility of UiTM’s cardiothoracic surgery postgraduate programme to non-Bumiputera students.

Currently, UiTM is the only university that offers a parallel pathway programme in partnership with National Hearth Institute within the cardiothoracic domain, encompassing surgery and the management of heart and lung ailments.

The two cardiothoracic surgery programmes offered by UiTM are a two-year Master’s in Surgical Sciences (Cardiothoracic) and a four-year Doctorate in Cardiothoracic Surgery.

However, CodeBlue, a health news portal, revealed in an article published on April 9 that UiTM’s cardiothoracic surgery programmes were not included in the list of recognised postgraduate qualifications on the Malaysian Medical Council’s website.

Chong also pointed out that the nation was in urgent need of cardiothoracic surgeons.

“Saving lives cannot wait and deserves utmost priority. Who knows the next patient could be ourselves or our loved ones.”

He suggested that UiTM could also accept qualified non-Bumiputera students without violating the UiTM Act.

“Keep the original Bumiputra quota, (but) UiTM could indeed offer non-Bumiputera students a temporary parallel pathway to plug the shortage of cardiothoracic surgeons in the interest of our national healthcare system.

“This measure will ensure that the interests of Bumiputera students and the nation are both protected,” said Chong, noting that Universiti Malaya is still unprepared for such initiatives.

He also commended Bersatu Youth Wing’s three alternative suggestions, which are to source talents from East Malaysia’s Bumiputera community, for Universiti Malaya to expedite a similar programme with the assistance of the Higher Education Ministry, and to allow non-Bumiputera students shortlisted for the field to register with other institutions of higher learning.

“We would like to provide these proposals to the authorities so that we can circumvent the UiTM Act 1973 and settle this issue amicably for national interest.”

Meanwhile, UiTM vice-chancellor Shahrin Sahib said the university is committed to upholding the UiTM Act and Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

On May 15, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir said the ministry strictly adheres to Clause 1A of Act 173, which states that UiTM was established in accordance with the provisions of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

Zaid Malek of Lawyers for Liberty said allowing non-Bumiputeras to enter UiTM did not violate Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

“There is certainly nothing within Article 153 that would make it unconstitutional to allow non-Bumiputeras to enrol in any of UiTM’s courses.”

He added that the UiTM Act is non-discriminatory and does not make references to admissions based on race.