Was Tun Tan Siew Sin being pragmatic on Merdeka University?

A comment was made by Tun Tan Siew Sin in 1969 relating to the issue of Merdeka University (MU), “It is easier for hell to freeze than the Merdeka University to be established in this country.” He received a lot of negative feedback for his comment. MCA subsequently fared badly in the General Election of 1969. On hindsight, was Tun Tan Siew Sin just being pragmatic? 48 years on who would have thought that Malaysia of today can have around 40% of her youths enrolled in tertiary institutions, over 150,000 international students and indeed is the 9th ranked country for higher education! And hell need not freeze over for all these to be attained too!