The criticism by former federal minister Rafidah Aziz of the higher education ministry for Malaysia’s unusually large number of private colleges and the accreditation process is hypocritical. Rafidah was a federal minister for 38 years from 1980 to 2008 when the privatisation of higher education reforms occurred.
Prior to 1995, private higher education institutions (HEI) were virtually non-existent as licences for new private HEIs were referred for approval in Cabinet. Higher education was largely funded and managed by the federal government with fewer than 20 private HEIs operating at that time.
The licence for Limkokwing Institute of Creative Technology which Rafidah is criticising was approved in 1991. The Akta IPTS 1996 was established to make it easy for private HEIs. The Akta PTPTN Nasional 1997 was established the following year to saddle youngsters with student debts while these private colleges raked in large profits.
Enacting Akta IPTS and Akta PTPTN would have been discussed during the weekly federal Cabinet meeting at which Rafidah had a seat as a federal minister. Many of these private colleges are owned by politicians linked to Barisan Nasional (BN), of which Rafidah Aziz was a party member for 40 years.
The lack of credibility and proper accreditation amongst private HEIs peaked in 2005-2006. However, the Cabinet enacted the Malaysian Qualifications Act in 2007 instead of reversing the privatisation of higher education.
Why didn’t Rafidah speak against the privatisation of higher education in the mid-90s?
Why didn’t Rafidah speak about the accreditation of higher education in 2007?
Why didn’t Rafidah vote against all the bills in Parliament?
Why didn’t Rafidah resign from her Cabinet position to protest these reforms?
Today, Rafidah is nothing more than a hypocrite who conveniently positions herself as a saviour for the problem of which she was a part. Rafidah should stop her cheap publicity stunts as she supported this policy which damaged the future of millions of youth from the B40 regardless of ethnicity, religion or background.
Sharan Raj is a central committee member of Parti Sosialis Malaysia.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.