KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong is questioning if channelling funds to a trust fund instead of an existing body under Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) is in line with the Educational Institutions Act 1996.
"I would also like to ask if you set up a trust fund for TAR UC, with the 'owner' even unaware, it's as if you are creating another body to replace an existing one," said the MCA president.
He said this while debating Budget 2020 for the Education Ministry at the committee stage on Thursday (Nov 28).
Last Friday (Nov 22), Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said about RM30mil had been approved for a trust fund for TAR UC and its students annually, provided that MCA relinquishes control of the institution.
Lim said the TARCian Alumni Association (TAA) would manage the trust fund.
"I propose this in Parliament – please fulfil your promise to give RM1,000 to each student," said Dr Wee.
He added matters pertaining to TAR UC should fall under the purview of the Education Ministry and not the Finance Ministry.
"If a minister can announce something that is not listed under the Budget, how can it (the funds) be channelled to an alumni body.
"What does this mean? It means he can do anything at his whim and fancy," he said.
He also wanted the Education Ministry to explain which alumni body can receive the matching grant under the Budget.
"There is no such precedent. Don't sidestep the Dewan Rakyat," said Dr Wee.
The MCA president then continued by questioning the need to appoint a representative from the Finance Ministry into the TAR UC trust fund to be managed by TAA.
Lim had recently said TAA was not controlled by the Government or any Pakatan Harapan political party, but comprised successful former TAR UC students as well as a Finance Ministry representative.
Dr Wee said there is no private higher learning institution like TAR UC.
"We have four representatives from the Education Ministry and one from the Finance Ministry on the board of governors.
"Now they want another one appointed from the Finance Ministry for TAA. There are five government representatives on the board of governors, but another one is needed.
"It means that we do not trust those who were appointed. What will happen to the system which has been in place since 2013?" he asked.
Dr Wee reiterated that he has no problem to answer questions raised by several Pakatan lawmakers over TAR UC.
"I am prepared to give my explanation, similar to the Finance Minister," he said, and suggested a televised debate on the issue.
"Don't simply bash, we can debate, it's not a problem. I will answer one by one. I won't run," added the Ayer Hitam MP.
At Parliament lobby later, Dr Wee questioned the legitimacy of the "TAR Education Foundation" which Lim announced and referred to in the Education Ministry's letter.
"How can they use the trust fund (name) of this institution without telling them or obtaining permission to do so," he said.
He noted there already was a recognised TAR Education Foundation governed by law under the Educational Institutions Act 1996.
He claimed the move by Lim was to merely confuse the public and to use TAA to usurp influence over TAR UC.
Dr Wee reiterated his challenge to Lim to a live public debate over the matter.
"As president of MCA, I dare take up the challenge but I feel that he (Lim) is not brave enough to do so," he said.
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