KUALA LUMPUR: Lim Guan Eng has taken away government matching grants for Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) for the first time in its 50 years of existence, says MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
While the Finance Minister might have made history among his eight predecessors, including Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Wee said Lim, by doing so, had cast a gloom on affordable higher education for the lower income group.
Set up by MCA 50 years ago as Tunku Abdul Rahman College (TAR College) before it was upgraded to TAR UC in 2013, he said all the former finance ministers supported the MCA’s cause in education and the party was grateful to them.
Dr Wee said the government had given RM1.353bil to TAR College/TAR UC in the last 50 years, starting from 1969, comprising RM1.012bil in matching grants to aid its operating expenses and RM341mil in development funds.
He said matching grants were given every year to help meet its operating expenses, adding that it had helped to keep the course fees low.
Dr Wee said some 200,000 Malaysians graduated from TAR College/TAR UC over the last 50 years.
About 95% of the graduates were Chinese and the rest from other ethnic groups. They included Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub and Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok.
Dr Wee urged the people, especially those who had studied in TAR College and TAR UC to speak up on the issue – which touched on depriving TAR UC of matching grants – and causing much uncertainty among the lower-income group which looked forward to an affordable higher education.
Last week, Lim who announced RM5.5mil in development funds for TAR UC, said he could consider giving it more in the future if it severed ties with MCA, adding that education and politics should not mix.
Last year, TAR UC received RM30mil matching grants from the government. The first matching grant was RM281,502 in 1969.
While MCA and DAP are political rivals, Dr Wee told Lim not to play politics at the expense of affordable higher education for Malaysians.
“We (MCA) never ask what are the political affiliation of our students’ families. And the graduates are never bound to us (politically).
“We just want to give them a good education so that they have a better life,” Dr Wee told a press conference at Wisma MCA here yesterday.
Describing MCA’s request for matching grants as fair, reasonable and legitimate, Dr Wee said all the monies were used for TAR UC’s operating expenses.
He said TAR UC’s board of governors, chaired by former MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, comprised 14 members, and that only four, including Liow, are from MCA.
“MCA had spent RM20mil to set up TAR College to provide the lower income Malaysians access to higher education 50 years ago.
“We did that for the lower income people. The amount could be 29.8 times if the party did not spend it for the good of the people.
“MCA did not make a sen from education,” said Dr Wee, adding that the party met all the requirements under the Education Act 1961 in running TAR College and TAR UC.
Did you find this article insightful?