KUCHING: The scholarships for Palestinian students in Malaysia announced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will not involve public funds, according to a DAP lawmaker.
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii clarified that the scholarships worth RM11.47mil would come from funds generated by the universities themselves.
“They will not involve any government funding, or affect scholarships that are being offered to local Malaysians.
“This was confirmed by Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching upon verification after the announcement on Wednesday (May 22),” he said in a statement Thursday (May 23).
Dr Mahathir had announced that the government would offer scholarships through the Palestinian Cultural Organisation Malaysia (PCOM) for Palestinian students to pursue bachelor, masters and doctorate courses at 12 Malaysian universities.
His announcement at the 9th Grand Iftar with the Palestinian community drew criticism on social media that the government was spending taxpayers' money on foreigners instead of on local students.
Yii said he contacted the Education Ministry to clarify whether the scholarships would involve public funds and places in public universities for Malaysian students.
He said only one of the 12 universities involved was a public university, but funds for the scholarship must be raised by the university itself and no government grant would be used for this purpose.
“The other 11 universities are private universities. It is common practice for these private universities to offer scholarships to foreign students on a yearly basis, as it is part of their strategy to attract international students and helps to improve their ranking as well.
“So for this year, such scholarships for international students will be offered or given priority to Palestinian students,” he said, adding that he hoped this would clear the confusion on the matter.