Politicising education hurts the Chinese


As Malaysia tackles a RM1 trillion national debt, it may be wise for Lim Guan Eng to focus on revitalising the economy than to whip up a confrontation with his own community over a RM30mil grant

WHEN Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, in his Budget 2019 presented early this month, removed the RM30mil matching grant for Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), it hurt not just the MCA but also the Chinese community.

The government will provide a mere RM5.5mil as development fund to TAR UC. The fuming Chinese community is now taking up the issue as TAR UC, along with Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), another institution of higher learning linked to MCA, has provided affordable education to many Chinese students over the past 50 years.

The removal of the matching grant to TAR UC – an annual amount given by the Barisan Nasional government to the university college previously to match the funds it raised – will negatively impact its continued survival.

Hence, emotive comments against Lim have been dominating the vernacular media since the grant issue emerged.

A petition against the Finance Ministry has also been launched.

Notably, though they are two non-profit institutions set up by MCA – TAR UC in 1969 and UTAR in 2001 – they are now seen as part and parcel of the Chinese community, which has been supporting their operation and expansion with billions in cash donations and land.

The late philanthropist of Penang, Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew, told me in an interview in 1991 that he had contributed land and cash to TAR UC. Other Chinese tycoons, too, have privately shared such information with me.

Together with the matching grants from the government totalling RM1.353bil over the last 50 years, MCA was able to expand the reach of the university college, from Setapak to Penang, Sabah and Pahang.

In the last 17 years, MCA also built UTAR campuses in Sungai Long (Selangor) and Kampar (Perak).

In the five decades since TAR UC started, children from poor Chinese families and other ethnic groups, regardless of political leanings, have benefitted from the education offered by it due to its affordable fees.

In fact, TAR UC and UTAR are two of MCA’s best non-political projects which have contributed tremendously to the Chinese society, to compensate for its past failure to safeguard Chinese rights in the Umno-dominated Barisan regime.

Putting into historical context, TAR UC – which started as TAR College before being upgraded to university college status in 2013 – was a product of political compromise when non-­bumiputra student intake into the five public universities then was limited by the introduction of the bumiputra quota. The one-to-one matching grant enabled TAR UC to provide an avenue for higher education for those from the lower-income group as well as performing students denied entry into public universities by the quota system.

Hence on Sept 15, 1972, Datuk Hussein Onn, the then-Education Minister, handed over the Instrument of Government to the institution.

A 77ha plot in Setapak was allocated for the construction of TAR College’s main campus.

Later, UTAR was set up and officially launched on Aug 13, 2002, by then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad after higher education in the private sector was liberalised.

According to MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, some 200,000 students have graduated from TAR UC/UTAR over the past 50 years.

Currently, the student population in the two institutions totals 28,000. Employees stand at 1,500 (60% Chinese, 40% non-Chinese).

These figures show that not just the Chinese have benefitted from the existence of UTAR and TAR UC but the Malays and Indians as well. Among the Pakatan Harapan leaders who were beneficiaries of the TAR affordable education are Cabinet ministers Teresa Kok, Datuk Salahuddin Ayub and Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail as well as Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and exco member Chong Eng.

As these two institutions have become integral to the Chinese community, it is natural that vernacular newspapers are following closely the developments in this issue.

From the writing in the Chinese media, it can be seen that this issue is threatening to become a “Chinese community vs LGE/DAP” confrontation. This may not augur well for Lim.

While there are people who agree with Lim’s argument to separate education from politics, and that MCA must cut its links with these institutions, they form a miserable minority.

In a strongly worded comment piece “Play-killing UTAR”, Sin Chew Daily deputy editor-in-chief Tay Tian Yan points out that in speaking up on the grant issue, it is not meant to support MCA, but to show concern for the future generations of the Chinese community, particularly those from the poorer classes.

In response to Lim’s warning to MCA that the two institutions cannot raise tuition fees, Tay concludes: “UTAR will die an eventual death if it cannot raise fees and is not given a grant. What will be the future of our Chinese youth?”

Generally, Lim is seen as abusing his power to punish his political rivals and in the process undermine the interest of his very own community. Such political gimmicks should be stopped when dealing with taxpayers’ money, given that 80% of the country’s revenue is contributed by Chinese businesses and individuals in the form of taxes.

For many people, it is particularly repugnant when Lim threatened to “take action” against MCA if the institutions raise tuition fees.

In a China Press editorial yesterday, Lim was reminded that last year when he was Penang Chief Minister, he had said education allocations to schools should be given regardless of political backgrounds. And he acted fairly.

“But after LGE became Finance Minister, his statement last year on equality dissipated. Shouldn’t the former Penang CM give a big scolding to the current Finance Minister?” asks the writer mockingly.

The Pakatan government has also been reminded that 95% of Chinese voted them in to oust the previous administration in the May 9 general election. Their support should not be taken for granted and forgotten.

In short, TAR UC and UTAR should not be penalised just because of their parental link with MCA.

Looking at national development, these two institutions have nurtured much talent to serve the country, particularly in the field of accountancy.

File photo of UTAR's Faculty of Business and Finance in Kampar, Perak.
File photo of UTAR’s Faculty of Business and Finance in Kampar, Perak.

In fact, from my own observations, these institutions are more professionally run than many other private colleges and universities.

For this reason, and for their affordable fees, my husband and I sent our daughter to study in UTAR. She graduated last June.

As the country is confronted with a slowing economy and has to tackle a national debt of over RM1 trillion, it may be wiser for Lim to focus on revitalising the economy and other bigger national issues than to whip up a confrontation with his own community over a RM30mil grant.

By  Ho Wah Foon, The Star

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Ministers and leaders who benefited from UTAR UC & UTAR, removed matching grants to varsity


Varsity grads: Chew says he is disappointed with Lim for removing the matching grants when some leaders like (from left) Kok, Salahuddin and Saifuddin were products of the MCA-linked
institut
ions.

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA has pointed out that several Pakatan Harapan leaders were beneficiaries of MCA-linked institutions of higher learning.

MCA central committee member Datuk Chew Kok Woh named ministers Teresa Kok, Datuk Salahuddin Ayub and Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail as the beneficiaries.

He said even Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and state executive councillor Chong Eng were products of Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, then known as KTAR, and now TAR UC.

Chew expressed disappointment that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had removed matching grants to TAR UC.

He said although TAR UC and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman were set up by MCA, they were never used for political reasons, saying all the graduates could verify TAR UC and UTAR were apolitical.

He said these institutions were professionally run, adding Lim’s decision spoke volumes about his “politics of vindictiveness”.

In fact, he said, the decision was a timely reminder that DAP had done nothing for education except to criticise.

“What has DAP done for Chinese education? Name us one,” he said in a statement.

He said DAP should not punish parents and students by depriving them of affordable education because of political reasons.

Chew feared that Lim’s action would lead to higher tuition fees at these institutions.

He said many parents, who could not afford private colleges and universities, depended on TAR UC and UTAR.

Chew said the two institutions had produced more than 180,000 graduates of high calibre since its inception in 1969, while UTAR has 56,000 graduates since 2005.

“We need to put aside politics to help Malaysians, especially those from the lower-income background,” he said.

Chew said TAR UC and UTAR graduates, including these Pakatan leaders, could vouch that these two institutions were not “MCA indoctrination centres”.

It was recently announced by Lim that the government would only allocate a RM5.5mil development fund for UTAR and TAR UC, instead of a RM30mil matching grant for TAR UC.

Lim insisted that both education institutes break off ties with MCA before the government provides more allocation for the two institutions.

In the Dewan Rakyat, Ayer Hitam MP and MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong debated with Lim, stating that the matching grants were vital to help ensure lower student fees for the two institutions.

On Facebook, Dr Wee expressed his disappointment in the Finance Minister’s reply, adding that TAR UC was wholly owned by the TARC Education Foundation and should not be seen as part of MCA’s assets, and that the university college also submitted audited accounts to the Education Ministry every year.

Dr Wee also told reporters in Parliament House that TAR UC might have to increase its fees to cover operational costs.

Founded in February 1969 as KTAR, the institute was upgraded to university college status in May 2013 and renamed TAR UC.- The Star

Related News

 

Politicising education hurts the Chinese

 WHEN Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, in his Budget 2019 presented early this month, removed the RM30mil matching grant for Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), it hurt not just the MCA but also the Chinese community. The government will provide a mere RM5.5mil as development fund to TAR UC.
File photo of UTAR's Faculty of Business and Finance in Kampar, Perak.
UTAR’s Faculty of Business and Finance in Kampar, Perak.

 

Penang Tunnel project to be scrapped, flood mitigation plans among BN manifesto


 

‘Tunnel project to be scrapped’

BUTTERWORTH: Six pledges and 60 initiatives – that’s what the Barisan Nasional will be armed with as it attempts to wrest Penang from the clasp of the Opposition.

In its “Save Penang” manifesto launched yesterday, the coalition listed resolving flooding, overcoming traffic congestion and halting hillside development as the top priorities.

State Barisan chairman Teng Chang Yeow said if it regained power in the state, the controversial undersea tunnel project to link the island to the mainland would be scrapped.

He said further land reclamation at Permatang Damar Laut and Gurney Drive would also be barred.

Teng also announced that areas 76m above sea-level would be declared permanent forest reserves to protect the hills.

On flooding, he said the Barisan would resolve the problem within three-and-a-half years, by installing water pumps and floodgates and implementing a Penang Flood Mitigation Plan.

Another priority was to build 65,000 affordable houses within five years, introduce rent-to-own housing scheme, set the price of a low-cost home to RM40,000 (including a free carpark) and between RM80,000 and RM120,000 for medium-cost units (including free carpark).

The other priorities were listed as economic development, people’s welfare, and tourism and heritage.

Among others, the Barisan pledged to remove toll charges for motorcycles, abolish the water surcharge, provide a special fund of RM2,000 to couples who tie the knot for the first time, provide school bus subsidy to eligible families, provide free parking at council roadsides and residential areas, and allocate RM15mil annually for national-type, religious and private Chinese schools.

The Barisan also pledged to abolish postage charges and other charges for bill payments, provide free water to hardcore poor, reintroduce traffic wardens in school areas, and not to increase water tariff for residential areas within five years.

Thousands of Barisan leaders and members who attended the launch cheered when Teng fired salvos at the DAP-led state government, claiming its leaders made 51 false promises over the last 10 years.

Also present were state Umno chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman, state MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng, state MIC deputy chairman Datuk M. Nyanasegaran and leaders of Barisan-friendly parties.

Teng (middle) getting waves of support as he launches the Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. With him are Penang Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman (on Teng’s right) and Penang MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star
Teng (middle) getting waves of support as he launches the Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. With him are Penang Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman (on Teng’s right) and Penang MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

Flood Mitigation plans among BN manifesto

BARISAN Nasional will get allocation from the Federal Government to alleviate flooding woes in Penang within three and a half years if it secures the mandate from the people.

Penang Barisan chairman Teng Chang Yeow, a former state exco member, said detailed infographics would be required to come up with an action plan as well as a drainage masterplan to resolve the problem.

“We have experience in formulating flood mitigation plans in the past.

“From there, we will take the matter up to the Federal Government to negotiate for the amount of funds needed.

“We also have an emergency manual outlining standard operating procedures for a state to manage when struck by floods, and this goes in tandem with the Federal  Government’s guidelines to create a clear chain of command. “We noticed that in recent years, places in Penang that had never been flooded suddenly experienced floods.

“This is due to poor planning, lack of drainage and failure to identify hotspots.

“The people have suffered because of poor coordination and help could not reach them in time,” he said at a press conference after unveiling Barisan’s manifesto at a hotel in Seberang Jaya.

Commenting on the pledge for 50% of Penang island city councillors and Seberang Prai municipal councillors to be appointed from independent bodies, he said the  representatives could join the planning committee to give their ideas.

Teng said that although landowners had the right to plan projects, those staying next door could voice their views including objecting to the projects if they were affected.

“But today, planners are not planning.

“Instead, politicians are doing the planning,” he said.

Teng said planning should be left to planners with expertise while politicians should only make policies.

‘Can fulfil promises’

Teng: Penang will receive more allocation if voted into power

 

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5770690231001

DESPITE being an Opposition state, Penang has received RM2.08bil as allocation from the Federal Government between 2013 and 2017.

Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow said the amount was the highest among the northern states.

He said Kedah received RM1.76bil followed by Perak (RM1.25bil) and Perlis (RM360mil) during the same period.

“We can fulfil all our promises in the manifesto. The state will receive more allocation if we win the state from Pakatan Harapan,” he told reporters after launching the Penang Barisan manifesto at a hotel in Seberang Jaya yesterday.

Asked why the monorail and LRT projects which were in the 2013 manifesto were missing from the present one, Teng said the people in the state had rejected both projects as Penang Barisan was not voted into power then.

“However, we are open to consultation with the people and those from the civil movements to revive such projects if we are voted into power in the upcoming general election,” he said.

On another matter, Teng said Penang never had it easy during the 22-year tenure of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Penang was bypassed most of the time when it came to development projects.

“It was difficult for then Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to get allocation for projects in Penang as the funds would not come.

“Dr Mahathir, for reasons best known to himself, did not allocate sufficient funds for Penang and most of the time we were bypassed,” said Teng, who was once a state executive councillor.

Click to view details

 

– By K. Suthakar, Lo Tern Chern, and R. Sekaran, The Star

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Barisan Nasional Youth volunteers posing for a group photo at the recent Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto launching ceremony at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star
Barisan Nasional Youth volunteers posing for a group photo at the recent Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto launching ceremony at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

 

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