Mah Hui responds to Mahathir and Shamsul


Economist Lim Mah Hui says he never made comments attributed to him, so I am reproducing his statement below to help him get a fair hearing. What is irrefutable though is that the number of unemployed diploma holders and graduates has soared over the years.

I refer to the rencana by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Bumiputra Tiada Kualiti, originally published on his blog and reproduced in The Malaysian Insider on 22 October 2013, in which he names me personally, alleging that I said Bumiputras have no quality.

It is deeply disturbing that there is a continued barrage of mendacious comments and articles, attacking me over what I did not say, coming not only from a New Straits Times journalist, Shamsul Akmar, but even more from a person no less than a former Prime Minister of Malaysia – a man of high intellect and stature.

Unfortunately I was out of the country when the article appeared in early October and it was only brought to my attention on 17 October after my return. I immediately contacted the journalist to correct the misunderstanding and, to his credit, he subsequently published his article titled, Kualiti Pendidikan Punca Graduan Menganggur, Tiada Kaitan Perkauman (Root cause of unemployment is quality of education, no relationship with race) that appeared in the same issue of The Malaysian Insider, 22 October 2013. The Malaysian Insider should be commended for their professionalism in this respect.

But what is unprofessional, unethical and unacceptable is how some commentators continue to spin and, worse still, engage in flights of fantasy by embellishing the issue without checking the veracity of the original statement. This is a reflection of the tragic state of affairs of politics and reporting.

The original interview was about the high level of unemployment of graduates in Malaysia. I had said that many of our graduates (not singling out any race) are not only unemployed but more seriously are “unemployable” due to the drastic decline in the quality of education received. This problem is recognized by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak when he mooted setting up a Graduate Employability Taskforce with an allocation of RM200 million to make graduates more employable during the 2013 Budget presentation. He also announced an additional RM440 million for the Skills Development Fund Corporation.

Something has gone terribly wrong with our higher education system. It is well known that the standard of our education has declined drastically the last 40 years. After spending billions of ringgit to train our graduates, they are still not up to standard for employment. The government has to spend another RM640 million ringgit to make them more employable.

Even the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) and the Ministry of Manpower have highlighted this problem. According to the MOHE, a total of 184,581 students graduated in 2011, and 44,391 or 24 per cent, mostly bachelor’s degree holders, are unemployed. Arts and Social Sciences graduates form the highest number of unemployed, constituting 45 per cent.

In the medical field, about 8,000 nursing graduates have not secured jobs. According to Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam, this phenomenon is because of “the low quality of nurses, including poor language proficiency and nursing skills and training. Because of this most of them have been unemployed two years after graduation.” (NST, 8 October 2012).

In November 2011, a Jobstreet poll of human resource managers in the country found that more than 50 per cent of respondents said they were unable to hire the graduates due to “poor communication skills, notably lack of command of the English language”.

In short this problem is not a racial problem but a socio-economic malaise that must be rationally examined without racial mongering. But unfortunately it has been spun into a racial issue.

But I am happy to note that another fellow Malaysian, Hassan Talib from Gombak, has raised the same concern rationally in his letter to the Star on 16 October, titled “Got a degree but not a job”.

Therefore, instead of turning everything into a racial issue, and making the problem worse, it is high time that rationality and cool analysis replace racial mongering.

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OM Saigal
9 Oct 2014 12.29pm

One has to start with the right attitude, even answering a question such as “How do you like Singapore?”.
I was asked this at a merchant navy interview in Beach Rd & spoke positively, getting the boiler man’s post; and sailed away for years……

Lim Chung Tat
Lim Chung Tat
26 Oct 2013 10.16am

I am glad that Lim Mah Hui has clarified that he did not make the remarks attributed to him. Whatever it is, I agree with Noorani that we must not regard graduates as “low Quality graduates” just because they are not highly conversant in English. We must know a bit about how English came to be replaced by Bahasa Malaysia in the public universities of Malaysia. When the Federation of Malaya was granted independence by the British in 1957, Bahasa Malaysia was made the official language of Malaya(later Malaysia). In the early 1970s, the Government decreed that Bahasa Malaysia was… Read more »

24 Oct 2013 11.18pm

gerakan k,

where r u? you proud now of mahatirism?

Gerakan K
Gerakan K
25 Oct 2013 2.06am
Reply to  abb

Tun Dr M was a great PM and still is great leader. Yes, Tun Dr M is our pride as Malaysian. Watchout BR1M 2014 tomorrow !!!

24 Oct 2013 9.37pm

Mahathir is a racist, who survives on racism.
He’ll twist anything & everything to make himself look good.

24 Oct 2013 5.04pm

Noorini It’s easy for you to say HIRE THEM and TRAIN THEM. But who would do that? The private sector won’t do it for obvious reason, unless forced to. They have the luxary of choosing the best among the graduates. And the best are those with the right credentials, and that include RIGHT ATTITUDE. As if retraining them making them relevant to the industry is not enough, do we need to spend additional time and money to train their ATTITUDE? Of course, as you say, “anybody with the RIGHT ATTITUDE CAN BE TRAINED. But how many among the unemployed university… Read more »

24 Oct 2013 10.49am

UMNO/BN corruption and abuse of power is really just the same as the profligacy and lack of competitiveness of weaker European states and Latin American’s debt binge of yesteryears. These unemploye diploma holders and graduates are mere early symptoms of what is to come when the money and debt piling runs out.. Imposing GST and removing subsidies are merely the prelude to eventual disaster that is the same as what is happening in weak European and formerly in Latin countries. We are going to have graduates with MULTIPLE PHDS and all they are can get are working in Starbucks in… Read more »

Batu Ferringhian
Batu Ferringhian
24 Oct 2013 8.18am

and to make things worst, these unemployed graduates are already bankrupt! they need to repay the ptptn loans…i’m sure if they had a stabil job and make enough, they would repay.

on the other hand, UMNO members haven’t repaid their RM1BILLION Tekun legal action taken, no blacklisting from immigration required..

how does that work?!

24 Oct 2013 4.46am

Anil, you know what is wrong in Malaysia. These people are afraid of the Truth so much so they will never progress or improve since they refused to confront the problem and hence can never fix it. Worst of all you have these so called educated people believing everything is honky dory.

24 Oct 2013 2.42am

I am not convinced with these sweeping statements about “low Quality” graduates. They may not be highly conversant in English, but need not necessarily imply “low quality. I know one a specific case on a nursing grad, unable to find employment in Malaysia, but has secured a nursing job in Singapore and handsomely paid for that. Really what do we expect of fresh grads ? Quality is very subjective. For God’s sake, just HIRE THEM AND TRAIN THEM!!. Anybody with the RIGHT ATTITUDE CAN BE TRAINED.

don anamalai
don anamalai
24 Oct 2013 11.05am
Reply to  Noorani

The new education blueprint will never improve the situation.
Too many irrelevant courses are offered and do not produce marketable skills that are needed by the employers.

If you need to ‘retrain’ the fresh graduates, then something is not right.
Another wastage in our economy.

24 Oct 2013 12.01am

So we must look into why the education system produces uunemployable graduates.Is it too much political interfering?.In the 2013-2025 education blueprint,so much emphasis was placed on the teaching of Bahasa Malaysia but little was mentioned about how to raise the standards of maths and science and recently the education minister raised the point of teaching all university subjects in Bahasa Malaysia which he said should be encouraged.Why didn’t he look into this matter of unemployable graduates and give solutions?

Andrew I
Andrew I
24 Oct 2013 8.15am
Reply to  mark

So you can produce trolls to push more racial mongering and with a moral compass that can point any which way you so desire.

23 Oct 2013 10.41pm

Where is Lim Mah Hui’s original article (where he apparently said B has not quality)?
Link anybody?