KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — A total of 140 Palestinian seeking to further their higher education studies in Malaysia will be eligible under the RM11.48 million worth “Scholarship for Palestine” sponsorship as announced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday.
Higher Education Department director-general Datin Paduka Siti Hamisah Tapsir in announcing the number of placements, also expressed gratitude on behalf of her department to the 12 universities inclusive of a public university that offered the scholarships.
“Realising that the sponsorship will be funded entirely by the universities, the department hopes that other higher learning institutions will follow in the examples of these 12 universities.
“Their willingness to offer scholarships to Palestinian students in this blessed Ramadan month is a special initiative to symbolise the solidarity of the higher learning industry in its humanitarian effort for oppressed Palestinians,” she said in a statement here.
Dr Mahathir yesterday said the government has decided to offer scholarships to Palestinian students to pursue bachelor, masters, and PhD courses in 12 Malaysian universities.
The scholarships worth RM11.48 million will be offered through the Palestinian Cultural Organisation Malaysia.
Siti Hamisah said while it has become a norm for local universities to offer scholarships annually to both local and foreign students, only private universities have offered over RM100 million in scholarships to local students throughout the years.
She cited an example how Al-Bukhary International University in Malaysia is based on the concept of “philanthropy” that offered scholarships to students from war-torn countries so that they may return to their homeland with knowledge to redevelop their countries.
“This noble effort has subsequently attracted the interest of other private universities which was then extended to students from Palestine.
“This does not only show commitment and concern of academic excellence from the university but also provide an opportunity to Palestinian students to expand their knowledge,” she said.
Among the 12 universities and their respective contributions are Albukhary International University (RM3.5 million), Management and Science University (RM1.1 million), Mahsa University (1.094 million), Kolej Universiti Islam Perlis (RM1.02 million), City University (RM1 million), Multimedia University (RM1 million), UCSI University (RM719,433), Universiti Teknologi Petronas (RM681,500), Universiti Tenaga Nasional (RM575,000), Sunway University (RM500,000), Universiti Kuala Lumpur (RM158,400) and Universiti Utara Malaysia (RM128,000).
The announcement by Dr Mahathir yesterday drew flak from the public, but several Pakatan Harapan leaders have since explained that the scholarship did not come out of Putrajaya’s coffers.