THE RM40mil allocated by the Finance Ministry to the TARCian Alumni Association (TAA) gives me the same kind of feeling that we get while looking at food replicas on display in a showcase in front of Japanese restaurants. How beautiful... But can we eat them?
What I am trying to say is that the RM40mil allocation has been handed to the alumni association, not the school authorities.
The alumni association is not part of the TAR UC management, nor its owner. As such, it cannot directly use the money for the school’s administration or development.
Which means the RM40mil will not be used to pay for the teaching staff’s salaries or utility bills.
Neither will it be used as development expenditure to construct a new campus.
This RM40mil can only be used for the school’s administration or development if the alumni association hands over the money to TAR UC’s management or its owner TARC Education Foundation.
The thing is, this is anything but possible.
TAA is not standing on the same side as TAR UC/foundation, and sure enough, there is no chance this amount of money, or any part of it, will ever cross the line.
Since Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had wanted MCA to sever its ties with TAR UC, he will never hand over the RM40mil cheque to the school’s existing management or foundation directly.
Here comes the problem.
TAA is now holding the money which cannot be used for the school’s benefit.
It’s like those food replicas in the showcase. Nice to look at, but not edible at all!
If the amount is not used by the deadline, it will have to be returned to the government.
Or perhaps the alumni association will bypass the school management to directly benefit the students, for example by purchasing 20,000 iPhones with that money for each of the students.
The thing is, how is it going to answer to the rest of the country? Students from other universities across the country may ask for the same treatment, and this will force the government to fork out an additional RM1bil to get the problem solved.
TAA can also use the money as scholarships, but this amount is simply too huge for this purpose, and the recipients – probably many, many of them – will instantly become rich enough to buy an LV or Myvi, expensive meals or go on a vacation.
Or perhaps TAA has some other better ways to use this money which it has yet to think of.
Dumping RM40mil so generously on some unclear purposes, all I can say, is that this doesn’t seem to go well with our Finance Minister’s style of doing things.
The minister has specified that the money can only be used on students and the school, which is good.
And he insists that TAR UC should not be linked to any political party, which also conforms to his consistent position, albeit not that of the local Chinese community.
The thing is, several members sitting on the board of the education trust fund set up by the alumni association have been MCA members, but our minister says he doesn’t care.
He says TAR UC is now owned by MCA because the education trust fund’s members are from the party, including some former leaders.
However, the trust fund has written to the authorities to express its intention to replace the members with four non-partisan individuals, with no follow-up actions so far.
In the past, TAR UC used to enjoy annual allocations from the government to keep the school continuously operating.
With only RM1mil left of the allocation, it is unbecoming for the Finance Ministry to hand over the RM40mil allocation to a non-
management and non-owner entity, TAA.
The writer is the deputy executive editor-in-chief of Sin Chew Daily. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Star.