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By Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, Unit Pendidikan Politik-IKD

Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and the party he leads, Umno, have suddenly been championing the issue of meritocracy. This is indeed a paradox, since previously Mahathir and Umno have been the main advocates of racial-based affirmative action including quotas in universities.

Any move to question meritocracy were gunned-down as 'inciting racial sensitivities' or 'not understanding the Malaysian situation'. Reading the praises sung by the mainstream press on Umno's new attitude on the issue was surprising, especially those of the Malay newspapers.

Just a few months back, when the Chinese lobby group Suqiu talked about reforming the racial system running Malaysia, including the preferential university quotas for the bumiputera, Mahathir labeled them as 'communists'.

Historically, Umno has always been a reactionary force when it comes to promoting an end to the ethnocentric system that was inherited from the British div