10As benchmark for matriculation programmes fair, says National Professors Council

The National Professors Council says the Cabinet made the right call by setting the bar high when opening matriculation programmes to all students with 10As in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination, regardless of race or background, starting with the 2025 intake.

Its chairman, Distinguished Professor Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin said there should be no issues over the awarding of additional places to non-Bumiputera students who scored 10As, since the 90 per cent Bumiputera quota remained intact.

“I believe the prime minister wants to show that while the ethnic-based policy remains, he will allow for meritocracy-based criteria,” said Shamsul.

Distinguished Professor Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin.

“The additional spots are on top of the existing quota. It is for the brightest of students.”

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced the decision on June 30, and assured that the 90 per cent Bumiputera quota would remain.

Since 2005, the selection process for matriculation programmes has been through a race-based quota system, where 90 per cent was for Bumiputera students.

On a suggestion by former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim on Monday that the government remove the Bumiputera quota and allow those who scored 8As to enter matriculation programmes, Shamsul said he did not agree with Zaid’s views, saying that only the best students deserved a spot.

“Students getting 10As represent the best of the best. They are a small number, willing to invest their time, energy, and money to sit for 10 subjects to secure their future,” said Shamsul, who is also the founding director of the Institute of Ethnic Studies (Kita), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

Meanwhile, Pusat Komas, a civil society organisation for human rights that advocates for democracy and non-discrimination said the Cabinet’s decision was the first step towards recognising top talents, by giving them guarantees to pre-university education in Malaysia, based on merit, rather than race.

“We would like to see a transparent and just mechanism in place, so that well-deserving students do not feel like they’re being discriminated against,” said the group’s communications coordinator, Cindi Loo.

“We also would like clarification if this announcement applies only to those scoring 10As and above, as many straight-A students do not necessarily take 10 or more SPM subjects,” Loo added.

Komas said it hoped this decision marked a progressive development from Anwar in bringing forward more merit-based policies that would benefit all Malaysians.

“We are closely monitoring the implementation following Anwar’s announcement,” she added.

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