MCA to meet Dr M over TAR UC's matching grant request

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 22 Feb 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA will be meeting Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) allocations for a matching grant.

Party president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said the meeting is aimed at defending what the higher learning institution should receive.

''He is clear about the intention of this meeting and following his agreement to meet, MCA is looking forward.

''We are also fully prepared for it, '' he told the press after attending the Subang MCA division Chinese New Year open house on Saturday (Feb 22).

Earlier, it was reported that MCA was hoping to get Dr Mahathir's assistance so that the government will continue its allocation of a matching grant to TAR UC, allowing it to continue offering affordable education to students.

The meeting was said to be taking place on Feb 24 in Putrajaya.

When asked, Dr Wee, however, refused to divulge more details of the meeting, including its time, venue and who will be attending the meeting.

''Let the meeting take place first and we will make the necessary announcement later on.

''Meeting with high-level government officials may see changes even to the last minute. What more for the prime minister who is extremely busy, '' he added.

Dr Wee, who is also Ayer Hitam MP, said he wrote to Dr Mahathir soon after the premier announced that he would be taking over temporarily as the Education Minister, following Dr Maszlee Malik's resignation.

''I made it specific that I wished to meet the Education Minister to discuss the TAR UC allocation issue, which I have mentioned many times in the Parliament.

''This is not something new because I did the same when Maszlee was two weeks into his appointment as the then education minister.

''However, we had no chance to meet until his resignation, '' he added.

Depending on Dr Mahathir's schedule, Dr Wee said the meeting's length, content and the possibilities of raising other issues will be known during the meeting.

In the 2019 Budget tabled in Parliament in November 2018, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng cut off the development expenditure (or RM1-for-RM1 matching grant) for TAR UC, which in the past had received between RM30mil to RM60mil in matching grant annually from the ministry.

It was the first time in 50 years that TAR UC, which was set up in 1969 by the MCA to cater for Chinese students deprived of opportunities to enter public universities, was denied this funding.

In the latest Budget 2020 tabled last October, not only was the matching grant for TAR UC not reinstated, but its development fund was also slashed from RM5.5mil to a mere RM1mil.

Lim said the slash was because education must be separated from politics and insisted that MCA must give up control of TAR UC, and let the institution be run by Tunku Abdul Rahman Alumni Association (TAA) – a new alumni aligned to Lim.

However, on Nov 22, a RM30mil allocation for TAR UC was announced and was arbitrarily raised to RM40mil later and to be managed by TAA, which Dr Wee questioned as it is not the owner or operator of the institution.

MCA maintained that TAR UC management will continue to request for the matching grant of up to RM60mil per year, which the Federal Government had agreed to since 2013.

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