PETALING JAYA: Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Student Representative Council yesterday called on students to wear black in protest against a proposal to admit non-Bumiputera students to its cardiothoracic surgery postgraduate programme.

The council urged students to share photos of their attire with the #MahasiswaUiTMBantah hashtag on social media platforms to bolster the online campaign initiated on the same day.

This protest comes after a health news portal reported on April 25 that the UiTM-IJN Parallel Pathway Programme Board member Prof Dr Raja Amin Raja Mokhtar said UiTM agreed to provide a pathway for non-Bumiputera trainees to pursue advanced education in cardiothoracic surgery at the university.

In response, the Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, in a statement on Wednesday, clarified there had been no discussions regarding the proposal to open UiTM’s cardiothoracic surgery postgraduate programme to non-Bumiputera students.

Zambry said the need to address fundamental issues before considering such a proposal highlighted the government’s commitment to finding the best solution.

He stressed the Health Ministry will lead efforts to resolve the issue, and the ministry has not discussed the matter and has not been officially informed about the proposal.

“This issue has evidently been intentionally polemicised and manipulated by certain parties attempting to disrupt the policies and original objectives of establishing UiTM, thereby causing confusion and generating disagreements among various stakeholders.

“The Higher Education Ministry firmly adheres to Article 1A of Act 173 – UiTM was established in accordance with and subject to the provisions of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.”

While agreeing with Zambry, the Malaysian academic movement Gerak deputy chair Sharifah Munirah Alatas said it is unfortunate this issue has been polemicised.

“The student council’s overreaction is unwarranted. Allowing non-Bumiputera students into UiTM’s cardiothoracic surgery programme would be temporary.

“It is meant to address the urgent shortage of specialists until the situation improves.”

Sharifah Munirah said this should take precedence over the issue of non-Bumiputera admission into UiTM not being discussed in any meetings at the ministry or Cabinet level.

Sharifah Munirah, who is also a higher education reform columnist, urged Zambry to prioritise addressing the shortage of cardiothoracic surgeons.

In response, UiTM in a statement said it would continue to maintain its existing student intake policy.

Its vice chancellor, Prof Datuk Dr Shahrin Sahib, said there have been no discussions or proposals regarding policy changes in any meetings.

Shahrin emphasised that the university will steadfastly adhere to its founding principles and will continue to adhere to Section 1A of Act 173, which states that UiTM was established according to the provisions of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

“We will continue to pursue the mission and vision of this institution to empower Bumiputera,” he said in a statement yesterday.