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After some students’ plight have been reported in Sin Chew Daily two days ago, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Wee Ka Siong raised the issue in yesterday’s Cabinet meeting and confirmed the government’s of scholarships by the Public Service Department (JPA) for degree programmes, and bursaries by the Ministry of Education (MoE) for pre-university courses.

The suspension, which has come a shock to many students and parents, is unreasonable and unacceptable.

Education plays the most important role of building the nation’s talents; it is certainly unacceptable that education sector has become the prioritized target for severe slash in funding.

At a time when the government is talking about the goals of achieving high income status and developed nation, all efforts to build and retain talents must be sustained, if not doubled. With the scholarship suspension, Malaysians must ask if the government is serious in building and retaining talent.
Two questions which have arisen out of the suspension deserve attention.
Firstly, why was such an important decision with huge implications made by Public Service Department, rather than the Cabinet as Wee Ka Siong was only aware of the issue after the matter was highlighted by the media?

Secondly, there were allegations that Mara scholarship would not be affected. If such allegation is true, it means there is a racial approach in the government’s cost cutting exercise. This is unacceptable.

Since Wee announced that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib has directed the chief secretary and the Public Service Department to come up with a new solution, it shows that even Datuk Najib thinks the suspension is unreasonable.

In whatever solution that will be discussed by the Cabinet, it must be empahsised that there cannot be any retraction of scholarships and bursaries which have been approved and that education must not be the prioritized sector for fund slashing exercise.

Teresa Kok

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