ON June 15,1975, I wrote an article in Mingguan Malaysia in support of a national fund for higher learning. The title of my article was “Gantikan Sistem Biasiswa Kepada Sistem Pinjaman” (Replacing Scholarship System to Loan). It was Royal Professor Ungku Aziz Abdul Hamid who mooted the idea in a memorandum he sent to the government two years earlier.
I have my selfish reason for supporting him. When I joined Universiti Malaya (UM) in 1974, I received an annual scholarship of RM1,500 from a state government. The amount was barely enough to pay for the fees, let alone to survive in Petaling Jaya. Coming from a poor family, I had to work part-time at a motor repair shop and on some nights, I was a “jaga kereta” boy in Section 14, Petaling Jaya. It hit me back then the unfairness in the scholarship system.