KUCHING, May 23: Sarawak Patriots Association (SPA) today urged the federal government to prioritise Malaysians when offering scholarships and to focus on helping Malaysian children first before helping foreigners.
Noting the value of strategic assistance in helping the needy and strengthening ties with other countries, SPA chairman Datuk Lau Pang Heng however emphasised that the federal government needs to focus on the problems in the country’s own backyard first.
“There are a lot of Malaysian students including from Sarawak with outstanding results, and many of them have and are attending universities through private financing,” he said in a press statement.
He was commenting on the announcement by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday (May 22) on the government’s decision to offer scholarships for Palestinian students to pursue bachelor, masters, and PhD courses at 12 Malaysian universities.
Lau shared the fact that there were students who had to borrow from banks, while there were parents who had to mortgage their houses or even borrow from loan sharks just to enable their children to pursue higher education, which puts them at risk of financial distress and difficulties.
“Let’s look into our own home in Sarawak. How many of our Sarawak students have been granted scholarships to do their tertiary education?
“Most postgraduate students use their own money to finance their research studies because most applications for scholarships have been turned down often with the excuse of lack of funding,” he added.
Noting that the country is facing tough financial constraints, Lau however urged the federal government to put their priorities right.
“Provide scholarships to Malaysians as the priority rather than providing scholarship to foreigners,” he said.
Lau also said that it was the duty of the government to provide free education to all Malaysians.
“Education is the primary right of every citizen. Countries close to home like Australia and New Zealand provide free education for their citizens and permanent residents,” he said.
“If the federal government is unable to do so, we urge them to return the rights on education to the Sarawak government and we hope the Sarawak government will provide free education all the way up to the tertiary level for all Sarawakians,” he added.
SPA also reminded the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to keep their promises of giving 20 per cent oil royalty back to Sarawak which will go towards supporting Sarawak in developing its education sector.
Meanwhile, according to Bernama, Dr Mahathir said that the scholarships worth RM11.47 million will be offered through the Palestinian Cultural Organisation Malaysia (PCOM).
Among the 12 universities are Albukhary International University, Mahsa University, Kolej Universiti Islam Perlis, Multimedia University, UCSI University, Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Universiti Tenaga Nasional, Sunway University, Universiti Kuala Lumpur and Universiti Utara Malaysia.
Reaffirming the country’s commitment towards the Palestinian struggle, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia will continue to condemn Israel for its aggression and cruelty on Palestinians. — DayakDaily