The Bumiputera Economic Congress And Its Impact On Uitm


 

As we approach the seventh Bumiputera economic congress, one critical question looms large. Is this a forum for genuine economic progress or a breeding ground for questionable gains?
A closer look at past Bumiputera economic policies reveals a bias towards affluent Malays, not the grassroots, prompting an examination of the congress’s successes and failures with transparency in mind.
Focusing on education, we can delve into the historical achievements within the nation’s economy, particularly in skills, knowledge and education.
Establishment of ITM 
The establishment of Institut Teknologi Mara (ITM) in the early 1960s, a product of the Bumiputera economic congress of that era, marked a significant milestone.
This English-centric institution produced graduates across diverse fields, including business studies, industrial science and technology, media, art and design, hotel management and catering, and computer science, among many other new fields at the time.
This alma mater of mine was considered a success in its own right, not only for producing the numbers (700,000 graduates between 1967 – 2020), but also prominent figures who became captains of many business groups and industries.
However, its transformation into Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in 1999 by then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, with a shift to Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction, altered the trajectory and muddled its earlier objectives.
Unlike previously, graduates of UiTM suffered from diminished global employability due to a lack of confidence in English.
Bahasa and conservatism 
UiTM’s metamorphosis into what now resembles a religious institution has led to insularity and conservatism.
Graduates, lacking specialised skills and global education standards, find themselves aligning with specific political affiliations, potentially inhibiting diversity of thought.
Surely, UiTM was never intended to produce such graduates, especially when students of Sabah and Sarawak, and their interests, are taken into account.
The corporate governance landscape, once shaped by ITM graduates and alumni in crucial positions, has shifted far and wide.
It no longer serves the original purpose of creating corporate Malaysia with leadership roles and the ability to compete and strive at the global level.
This seventh congress must recognise those shortcomings and put the Bumiputera corporate world and entrepreneurship back on their original track.
Governance 
For instance, when discussing Islamic banking and shariah compliant counters, UiTM graduates may inadvertently overlook corrupt practices, casting a shadow over adherence to “corporate governance” as understood within the context of its international framework requirements.
In essence, the evolution from ITM to UiTM raises poignant questions about the true objectives of the Bumiputera economic congress, in relation to three fundamental needs: skills, knowledge and education.
It is imperative that the congress addresses these needs and preserves their lasting effects on the nation’s workforce and economic integrity.
The initiative must resist falling prey to political rhetoric, and should not be tailored exclusively to benefit a select few elite groups. - FMT
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.


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