KUALA LUMPUR: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has insisted that MCA should break off ties with Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) and Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) before the government provides more allocations for the two institutions.
"I would advise that next year, we will consider (more allocations) but at the same time, we want to be sure that there is a clear separation between education and politics.
"Both UTAR and TAR UC must not be owned by MCA," said Lim in his winding-up speech for his ministry on Budget 2019.
He was replying to MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong who queried why the government had slashed funds for the two institutions.
Dr Wee pointed out that the government had merely provided a RM5.5mil development fund for UTAR and TAR UC, but had not provided any matching grant.
Lim said that there could be a different forms of allocations for both the institutions if they were not owned by MCA.
He reiterated that politics and education needed to be separated.
"This is a brave decision made by my officers and I will support their decision.
"We cannot give matching grants to all schools, this would mean an outflow of money which we cannot bear," he said, explaining the reason for only providing the development fund but not the matching grant.
Dr Wee, however, argued that the matching grants were vital as it would help ensure lower student fees were charged by both institutions.
Lim insisted that MCA had a RM2bil fund, to which Dr Wee rebutted, saying that both Utar and TarUC were developed through public and government funds.
Dr Wee said that the institutions spent RM100mil to develop campuses in Sabah and Pahang without asking for government assistance.
Lim however later asked if MCA had received funds from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), to which Dr Wee said no.
"As far as I know, no," said Dr Wee.
Lim said it is best that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigate the matter.
"If you still deny that MCA did not receive funds from 1MDB, then let MACC investigate," said Lim.
Dr Wee then questioned the relevance of linking 1MDB to the education fund.
"Why are you mixing the issue of 1MDB and the universities," he asked.
Lim then became defensive and said: "You can hentam (bash) me in the Chinese media that I am anti-Chinese. Never mind."
"I am ready to accept because this is the principle of financial management that the government needs to uphold," said Lim.
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