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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 ― Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri sidestepped a parliamentary question on his termination of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) sponsorships for students to Taylor's University.
DAP’s Taiping MP, Nga Kor Ming, had asked Ismail to explain the move that was perceived as retaliation against the university for cancelling a contract with a bus operator whose buses were used in the pro-Malay #Merah169 rally in September.
“Until September 2015, around 521 students under the MARA scholarship have studied under various courses at Taylor's University in many fields including foundation programmes, bachelor degrees, masters and other programmes.
“The sum total is a big amount of scholarship for any institution of higher learning. The sponsorship of students by MARA in institutions of higher learning including Taylor's is done according to current needs,” Ismail stated in his written reply to Nga.
The minister previously said there were “many reasons” for such a decision, but did not elaborate on what these included.
Taylor’s University took the decision after a bus bearing its logo was used to ferry protesters to the “red shirt” rally in the city on September 16, 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.