THE Khoo Kongsi has been giving out financial aid for the past 75 years but it was only in the 1970s that women were eligible.
“The initial practice to provide education aid only to males dates back to our ancestral days when only the paternal side was recognised because when the women got married, they would adopt their husbands' surnames.
“Today, we practise gender equality,” Khoo Kongsi secretary Khoo Boo Hong smiled.
Final year University Malaya medical student Bee Leng, 25, said she was very happy that the clan has extended its financial aid to clanswomen.
“The Khoo Kongsi has been giving me yearly monetary awards for the past 19 years – since my primary school days!
“After I graduate, I will probably do my Masters in internal medicine. I am glad the clan now recognises that the Khoo women can also contribute to the development of the country and community,” she said.
Come tomorrow and the next day, Bee Leng and 245 others will receive a total of RM137,500 under the Khoo Kongsi education financial aid allocations.
Khoo Kongsi trustee Khoo Kay Hock said about 10% of the clan’s general fund was spent on education yearly.
“That’s about RM200,000 a year on average. From that amount, RM50,000 is set aside for an annual dinner for new graduates and their families. The gathering is held for them to come and pay homage to our patron saint, General Cheah Hean (Tai Sai Yeah).
“The graduates also receive RM300 each and pewter souvenirs,” he said, adding that the clan receives at least 200 applications for financial aid yearly from primary, secondary, college and university students.
All clan members pursuing their diplomas or degrees are eligible for the financial aid. However, primary and secondary students will only qualify if their parents earn less than RM1,500 per month.
“Unlike other clans, we don’t set a limit when it comes to giving out education aid. While we can’t pay for the entire course, we hope that the amount given will serve to encourage clansmen to further their studies,” he said.
Kah Ern, 23, a fourth year veterinary student at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), said the awarding of the financial aid was very fair.
“Everybody regardless of his or her field of study is given the same amount which is very fair. We are all Khoos so it is only right that we are treated the same.
“The education aid is a form of encouragement for us to excel academically,” he added.
A second year material science student at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Lay Sin, 21, is grateful for the financial assistance. “Our loans are about RM3,500 each which does not leave us with much to spend on additional study aids like computer accessories and books.
“For students like me who live off campus, the RM800 given by the Kongsi really does make a difference,” he said, adding that this was the second year he had applied for and received the aid.
Boo Hong said the clan has never asked recipients of the aid for finan-cial contributions once they have graduated.
“In fact, we never accept any monetary gifts even if it is meant for the Khoo Kongsi general fund.
“We would prefer it if the graduates offer their time and service. For those who insist on donating money, we suggest they give it directly to the Sin Kang school,” he said, adding that past applications for the aid included a 70-year-old man who wanted to do his PhD (doctorate)!