Saturday, March 03, 2007

Yet Another Demand for a Crutch

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of "crutch" is a long stick with a crosspiece at the top, used as a support by a lame person.
From Bernama, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn was "lambasted" recently for "neglecting" unemployed bumiputera graduates. Umno Youth Public Complaints Bureau chairman, Subahan Kamal said many graduates had "resorted" to driving taxis as they "could not find employment" in the private sector.

I see 2 weaknesses with Subahan's assertions.

One... is it really the HR ministry's fault that bumiputera graduates were unemployed?

I reckon Subahan and UMNO Youth are barking up the wrong tree. OK... bumi graduates are not being employed by the private sector. Why? Is it because the private sector doesn't want to OR because they can't? I can't help but think it's the latter.

Has UMNO Youth taken it's own Youth Chief, Hishammuddin Hussien (who is also Education Minister) to task... as to why his ministry's graduates are unemployable?

What kind of graduates are being produced? Are they graduates with marketable degrees like business and engineering, or do they hold degrees in humanities, arts, religion and ethnic studies? Are they IT savvy and proficient in computer applications? How are their communication skills? Can they speak well and apply themselves effectively in the workplace? How are their standards of English?

Without answering these supply side questions, how does Subahan jump to the conclusion that it is a demand side problem?

Two... look at the "solutions" that Subahan has proposed:
- the [HR] ministry had to assume responsibility for their plight
- enforce a 30 per cent quota for Bumiputeras at all levels in the private sector
The first removes the responsibility for their own career success from the bumiputra graduates themselves, and places it on a guarantor. Isn't this another crutch? And hasn't UMNO sworn to get rid of crutches? Which, btw, is the only thing that Tun M and Pak Lah agree on.

The second implies a guaranteed quota of employment based on race, which overrides any other consideration (business-need or even, simple fairplay). Look at the 30% bumi ownership and management involvement for listed companies, and the 100% bumi quota for govt contracts. How many genuinely successful individuals have those quotas produced?

In fact, doesn't the constant production unemployable bumi graduates point towards the utter failure of bumi quotas in the Malaysian education system? Will more quotas solve a problem created by the imposition of quotas in the first place?

The undeniable truth is that quotas don't work because they eliminate any motivation for working hard and improving ourselves. Quotas are simply counter-productive. They imprint on the subjects, those exact traits and habits that they were supposed to get rid of, in the first place.

And lastly, although I would have considered any response unnecessary... like how you don't waste time shouting back at barking dogs, Fong Chan Onn's response is here.

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