Jonathan Chai Voon Tok

KUCHING: It is high time for the federal government to take positive steps in resolving the long-standing Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) issue.

Association of Boards of Management of Aided Chinese Primary School in Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Division president Jonathan Chai said this was the best chance for Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to show the nation that he is a different leader.

He said looking at the clarification issued by the Prime Minister’s Office that the government never said it would recognise UEC, the leader of Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zhong) knew very well that it would be a long way before any positive outcome can be anticipated.

“I do hope the issue can be resolved, from the perspective of education,” he told New Sarawak Tribune.

He also urged the federal government to emulate Sarawak’s leadership style of moderation and pragmatism.

“We are proud to acknowledge that the Sarawak government under the leadership of the late Tok Nan (Pehin Sri Adenan Satem) looked at the issue from the education perspective, by making Sarawak to the first to recognise UEC.

“And his successor, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, continues his moderate approach by giving annual financial grants to all 14 independent middle schools in Sarawak,” Chai pointed out.

He recalled that in 2015, Tok Nan said the Ministry of Education was irrational to not recognise UEC, a certificate recognised by the top universities in the world.

“His views were echoed by Abang Jo on a few occasions, including a Chinese New Year function in Sarikei early this year, where Abang Jo said it was simply daft to not recognise UEC, and we would be the losers if we don’t as it is recognised by credible universities such as National University of Singapore, Tsinghua University, China and some American universities,” he said.

Chai said not all political leaders had the similar thinking of Sarawak’s leaders when dealing with issues related to Chinese education, most notably their counterparts in Peninsular Malaysia where issues relating to vernacular education were often politicised.

“It certainly requires some moral courage and political will from our current government to clear the obstacles. “I think it is best to just leave it to the professionals and Malaysian Qualification Agency to conduct the prerequisite assessment of the standard of UEC and take the necessary measures to facilitate the eventual recognition of UEC,” said Chai.