KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — The decision to terminate Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) sponsorships for students to Taylor’s University was not in any way linked to the #Merah169 rally in September, Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.
The minister, who had earlier skipped a similar question asked by Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming, said this in a written reply to another DAP lawmaker, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok.
“For your information, the decision to stop the sponsorship of new students to Taylor’s University has got nothing to do with the issue of the university terminating its contract as you are suggesting,” Ismail Sabri said.
Kok had asked the minister to explain his reason for pulling the plug on the MARA sponsorships and whether it had anything to do with the university’s decision to terminate its contract with a bus operator that was seen ferrying participants to the #Merah169 rally last month.
Taylor’s University had made the decision after a bus bearing its logo was used to ferry protesters to the rally by the red shirts movement, which it said was done without its knowledge or approval.
Thousands of red-shirted people were bussed into the federal capital on September 16, which was also Malaysia Day, for the rally officially called “Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu” or the United People’s Assembly, but which caused concern among traders in the city centre and ethnic Chinese business leaders.
The protest was also marred by sporadic outbreaks of racism, with one attendee recorded calling a reporter “Crazy Chinese pig”, among other insults.
A pocket of rally participants also clashed with riot police in Petaling Street, forcing the authorities to fire water cannons to disperse the crowd.