Nothing enviable about scholarships for Palestinians, Kit Siang’s aide tells MCA

Ida Lim
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks to former Hamas chairman Khalid Meshaal at Perdana Putra May 22, 2019. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — There is no need to politicise or to envy the scholarships that will be offered by local universities to students from Palestine, DAP’s Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang’s aide today told an MCA leader.

Lim’s political secretary Syahredzan Johan pointed out that the newly-announced RM11.48 million worth of scholarships will not involve government funds and was not the first time that such education assistance is being offered to international students.

“The practice of offering scholarships to international students is not something extraordinary, apart from scholarships offered to Malaysians only.

“I urge Tan Chee Hiong to first study the amount of scholarships that have been offered by the private sector to Malaysians in comparison to foreign students before issuing a statement,” Syahredzan said in a statement today in response to the MCA deputy youth chief.

Syahredzan also said Palestinians are known to be among the most oppressed people in the world

“These scholarships that are being offered gives an opportunity for those who qualify to receive education in Malaysia, a country that is peaceful if compared against Palestine. So, there is nothing to be jealous of with these scholarships,” he added.

Yesterday, Tan had in a statement questioned the scholarships to the Palestinian students, suggesting that the current government has more than enough funds to do so despite the latter’s assertion of a high national debt.

Tan had said Malaysians are compassionate and would not object aid to other countries for diplomacy and humanitarian purposes, but said Malaysians should be prioritised when it comes to care given out.

Today, Syahredzan corrected Tan by pointing to the Higher Education Department’s clarification that the scholarships were contributions from private universities and are not government-funded.

“The MCA deputy youth chief’s statement is nothing more than an attempt to politicise this issue,” Syahredzan claimed, adding that the noble efforts by these universities should be celebrated instead of being disputed.

Syahredzan said that this would be in line with Malaysia’s position of standing firmly in support of Palestine’s continued criticism of the “Zionist” regime’s alleged cruel acts on Palestinians.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reportedly announced that RM11.48 million worth of scholarships will be offered via the Palestinian Cultural Organisation Malaysia (PCOM) for Palestinian students to pursue bachelor, masters and PhD courses in 12 universities in Malaysia.

Dr Mahathir’s announcement initially drew flak from the public where access to tertiary education has re-emerged recently as a touchy topic, but several Pakatan Harapan leaders have since clarified that the scholarship did not come out of Putrajaya’s coffers.

Yesterday, Higher Education Department director-general Datin Paduka Siti Hamisah Tapsir said a total of 140 Palestinians will be eligible to pursue their studies in Malaysia under the RM11.48 million worth of scholarships to be funded entirely by the 12 universities.

The 12 universities comprise of public university Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) with a RM128,000 contribution, and 11 private universities based in Malaysia.

The other universities are Albukhary International University (RM3.5 million), Management and Science University (RM1.1 million), Mahsa University (RM1.094 million), Kolej Universiti Islam Perlis (RM1.02 million), City University (RM1 million), Multimedia University (RM1 million), UCSI University (RM719,433), Universiti Teknologi Petronas (RM681,500), Universiti Tenaga Nasional (RM575,000), Sunway University (RM500,000) and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (RM158,400).

Siti Hamisah reportedly said local universities have been offering scholarships to both local and foreign students each year, noting that private universities alone have offered over RM100 million worth of scholarships to Malaysians throughout the years.

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