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Friday, January 22, 2016

Putrajaya told after budget, scholarship cuts, ruining Malaysia's future

KUALA LUMPUR - A coalition of youth and student bodies demanded today that Putrajaya lift the reported freeze on Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships and stop trimming the country's annual budget for education, saying these moves would destroy the country’s future.

In a statement endorsed by 15 groups, the youths said it was the government's role to provide education opportunities for all, especially those who perform well academically.

High-performing students should be seen as valuable assets and should not have their opportunities taken away because of the government's inability to cope with the current economic situation, they said.

“To solve the financial crisis, the leakage, corruptors and cronies should be the one that is needed to be eliminated and fight against but not the students who represent the future of this country,” the groups said in the statement.

“Therefore, we hereby demand the government to stop reducing budget on education and increase or at the very least restore it to the initial.

“We also urge the government to retract the decision of suspending PSD scholarships. Stop destroying the future of this nation!” they added.

The statement was jointly issued by the Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (Dema), University of Malaya Association of New Youth (Umany), We Unite For Islam (Wufi) IIUM, Persatuan Mahasiswa Islam Universiti Malaya (PMIUM), Parti Amanah Negara's student bureau, PKR Youth's student bureau, Serikat Mahasiswa, Transformasi Mahasiswa UUM, Legasi Mahasiswa Progresif (LMP), Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM), Siswa Progresif (SISPRO), Student Unity Front (SUF), Progressive University of Malaya, Gabungan Mahasiswa UKM (GMUKM) and the PSM Socialist Youth wing.

When Budget 2016 tabled in October last year, lawmakers and student groups railed against the reduced allocation for higher education, noting that the decrease of RM2.4 billion from RM15.785 billion in 2015 to RM13.378 billion or this year would significantly impact students and higher learning institutions.

Earlier this week, Sin Chew Daily reported an announcement by Minister in Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong that the Cabinet will review the suspension of disbursements for PSD scholars in 2016.

According to the Chinese-language paper, the PSD has suspended disbursing funds and halted its e-profiling system for all tertiary courses, including pre-university programmes, both locally and abroad amid shrinking national revenue caused by falling crude oil prices worldwide.

Wee said the Cabinet was urged to give the matter urgency as intake for some universities, like in Australia, start February 1 — less than two weeks away.

The newspaper reported that officials from the Prime Minister’s Department and PSD are to submit their report and that the Cabinet will decide on the issue at its meeting next week.

Yesterday, Wee disputed reports claiming that the PSD has stopped issuing scholarships for all students.

According to a report in The Star, Wee said that only the disbursements for 2014 scholarship recipients have been affected.

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