Syed Saddiq: Scholarship offer for Palestinians a compassionate move, will boost Malaysia’s long-term interest

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman speaks during a press conference after a meeting with the top management of Manchester City in Putrajaya May 23, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman speaks during a press conference after a meeting with the top management of Manchester City in Putrajaya May 23, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, May 23 — The recent scholarship offer to Palestinians is a compassionate move which will also boost Malaysia’s long-term interests with the country, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said today.

In a press conference here, the first-term minister said Malaysia cannot turn its eyes away from the problems being faced by other nations, as it is also part of a global community which had received aid previously.

He added that Malaysia has always been a humanitarian government and always helped other countries in need.

“Firstly I think this is something which we have been doing for a very long time. For example if you look at the 1990s, there were a lot of Bosnian students who were taken into Malaysia, and now they are working in Malaysia and are a value to the Malaysian economy.

“They also assisted Malaysia to do some of the best business deals with the Bosnian government. That’s why the image of Malaysia in Bosnia is exceptionally good. So I think people should look at the long-term. Let’s not forget, we are a humanitarian government.

“In the end, it’s not just for long-term strategic interests, but on top of that to show that we are a government that cares, a compassionate government and I believe this stands in Malaysia’s long-term interest,” Syed Saddiq told the media after a meeting with international football club Manchester City, here at the ministry’s headquarters.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday said that the government has decided to offer scholarships to Palestinian students to pursue their bachelor, masters, and PhD courses in 12 Malaysian universities.

Bernama reported the scholarships worth RM11.48 million, will be offered through the Palestinian Cultural Organisation Malaysia (PCOM), adding that it was an initiative by Education Minister Maszlee Malik.

This led to heightened social media fury, with many Malaysians questioning the rationale for the move, pointing out that good scholars here lack such opportunities and perks, labelling the initiative as a case of misplaced priority.

Most had also questioned as to how the Palestinians would add value to Malaysia’s economy.

The 12 universities are; Albukhary International University, Mahsa University, Kolej Universiti Islam Perlis, Multimedia University, UCSI University, Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) , Universiti Tenaga Nasional (Uniten), Sunway University, Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL)and Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM).