Petronas under scholarship fire

KUCHING: SUPP president Senator Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian has criticised Petronas for not providing enough scholarships for Sarawakians.

He called on the national oil company to “do more, speak less” when it comes to development for Sarawak, where most of the country’s oil wealth is from.

“Human capital development is more important than physical infrastructure development,” Dr Sim said in a statement yesterday, adding on to a debate he had in the Senate on Tuesday, in which it was revealed that Petronas only granted 102 scholarships to Sarawakians between 2010 and 2014.

“We want to be a high income country with high human resource capabilities – not a high income country with poor human resources. We want real action in (the) implementation (of projects and programmes) in Sarawak to ensure Sarawakians are on par with the rest of Malaysians.”

Dr Sim urged Petronas to “prove your sincerity with action”.

Petronas scholarships was one of the questions the cardiologist-turned-politician submitted to the Prime Minister’s office for this sitting of the Senate. In a reply by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, Dr Sim was told that the Petronas Education Sponsorship Programme was given to 1,551 Malaysians from 2010 to 2014.

“Over the same period, the total number of students from Sarawak who received scholarships given by Petronas is 102 recipients,” Wahid said, adding that the Petronas scholarship was given based on merit and with stringent processes.

He also said Petronas was always “committed to contribute to human resource development” via four initiatives, including a Vocational Institution Sponsorship and Training Assistance (Vista) programme.

Oil and gas revenue issues are not new in Sarawak. When Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem was sworn in last year, one of the first things he did was to make public a request for the Federal Government to up oil and gas royalty from 5% to 20%.

In May last year, the Sarawak Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a motion to urge the Federal Government to consider the request. This was before world oil prices tumbled at the end of last year.

More recently, Adenan told a technical skills college convocation ceremony here that he asked Petronas to consider setting up a institute of higher learning in Sarawak.

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