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Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit excites parents funding UK education

KOTA KINABALU - The ongoing Brexit referendum, on whether or not the United Kingdom (UK) continues to be part of or leaves the European Union, is believed to be of little concern to most people here.

However, a group of parents who are financing their children's education in the UK are excited by news that the British pound may face devaluation "hopefully also against the much depreciated ringgit."

Asked how they could be so sure, group spokesman James Chin, a parent of two children studying in England and Scotland, said:

"We trust George Soros who said the sterling devaluation would be at least 15 per cent to more than 20 per cent. That will make up somewhat for fees increase."

When Soros was blamed for the downfall of the ringgit and later to be pegged at RM3.80 to a US dollar by Tun Dr Mahathir's administration, it is lower today, at around RM4 to the dollar.

Since then, parents who need to finance their children's education in Britain have to fork out more devalued ringgit for fees and living expenses.

"I hope the prices of spare parts for Range Rover, Land Rover and Mini will also drop after Brexit," said Iskandar Ahmad, a motor enthusiast with a collection of former British owned vehicle brands, now sold off to German manufacturer BMW Group and others from India (Jaguar) and China. He used to import his parts direct from London.

Iskandar said he shares British High Commissioner to Malaysia Victoria Marguerite Treadell's passion on vintage car enthusiasm since she used to follow her late father on rides and is known for her love of motorcycles and cars.

Victoria or Vicki Treadell, as she prefers to be called, in a past interview with the media and Daily Express, mentioned that education is a cornerstone of UK-Malaysia relationship, particularly involving people-to-people ties.

"We are working on a 'Great Campaign' to showcase the best of UK education and to enhance the existing partnership in the education sector.

"Ties between Britain and Malaysia is stronger than what most people think," she said, than of what the European Film Festival promotes in ties.

In reply to why the British film industry did not participate in any European Film Festival here, she said Britain's soft power in films like James Bond thumps other European makes in terms of worldwide influence and prestige.

What a power statement on British pride!

Victoria's late father, Rex Jansz of French-Dutch ancestry, owned a publishing business while her mother Anne Chan was a sought-after wedding dressmaker in Ipoh.

Although Treadell and her family settled in the UK when she was eight, she often returned to Malaysia to visit relatives.

There has never been a British High Commissioner to Malaysia that is so acquainted with West Malaysia.

As an envoy, it was commendable that she took time off with her key staff to visit, learn and acquaint about East Malaysia which is so different from West Malaysia since the formation of the federation under British endorsement.

"I would love to organise something here to showcase the best of Britain's automotive sector whether two or four-wheel," she said.

When time permits, Treadell enjoys getting out the city in her Land Rover Discovery Sport to explore Malaysia's hills, jungles and beaches.

However, the escalating costs of a British education and motoring has put paid to a lot of such people-to-people ties when parents and scholarship providers withdrew from Britain and sent their charges elsewhere.

Common Malaysians find it prohibitive to visit their children or have a UK vacation due to the costs.

If indeed Brexit is realised, and the ringgit gained against the devaluing sterling pound, then more people might find British education more affordable.

Not only that, as some tourism players organising tours to Europe also hope for any gains for foreign exchange advantage to make some more profits in a very competitive environment now.

But then, Brexit might not materialise as hoped for by some parents, motor enthusiasts and outbound tourism businesses here if the UK Prime Minister has his way to stay put in the EU.

Whatever the outcome, some Malaysians take keen note of the healthy role of democracy in British society on the governance of their nation, and more Malaysians hope such spirit will one day come forth for the betterment of a progressive Malaysia.

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