KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 — DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government wants a complete break with the past practice when funding for private education institutions depended on its management’s political ties.
He added that his party does not intend to set up its own education institutions simply to secure public funding, nor will the government provide public funds to organisations owned by political parties.
“The PH federal government is built on the foundation of democracy, justice, rule of law and fighting to reduce corruption through institutional reforms. These institutional reforms include separating government, business and education from political control, manipulation and interference.
“For this reason, public funding cannot be given to institutions that are controlled by political parties. This basic principle of public accountability is practiced in all democratic countries in the world and respected by all political parties in Malaysia, including the Opposition parties, except for MCA,” he said in a statement.
Lim, who is also finance minister, pointed out that if this were to be done, the government would also have to provide similar assistance to other private and public tertiary institutions, which it could ill afford.
“The suggestion by MCA to give RM1,000 to every Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TARUC) student instead, is just not feasible nor logical, because this would require the same amount to be given to all public university students as well as other private universities,” he said.
Lim reiterated that the government has already budgeted the MCA-linked university college some RM30 million from this year and claimed the Opposition party refused the offer due to the condition that it must relinquish political control of TARUC.
“This principle of giving funding of at least RM30 million annually from 2019 onwards to TARUC when it is run by professionals and not controlled by MCA, is not only my personal stand but also endorsed by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“Let me reiterate again that the government has no interest or intention of taking over control of TARUC as claimed by the lies in the biggest mainstream Chinese and English media, controlled by MCA,” he said.
The Bagan MP dismissed comparisons between TARUC to MARA, noting that the higher learning centres catering to the Bumiputera are government owned and not by a political party like Umno.
“So long as MCA gives up control of TARUC to the main TARUC Students Alumni Association and Chinese community, without any political background, public funding of at least RM30 million annually beginning from 2019 shall be restored immediately.
“They should do the right thing by complying with the law and give up political control, so that TARUC will not lose out at least RM30 million annually due to the selfish and stubborn political interests of MCA to continue to control TARUC,” Lim said.
He then asked MCA why the party was resisting relinquishing its stake if its interests were to promote education.
“Let TARUC be free from political control and be run professionally so that it can take its place as a center of educational excellence at affordable prices. This is a test for MCA whether it values TARUC or MCA more,” Lim said.
Last month, MCA president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong complained in the Dewan Rakyat about the Education Ministry’s reduction of funds for TARUC’s funding by as much as 81.8 per cent for 2020, granting it only RM1 million compared to RM5.5 million budgeted for this year.
The cut in funding also led Wee to accuse Lim of not sympathising with Chinese students from poor or disadvantaged backgrounds.
The college fund cut has also been turned into BN campaign fodder targeted at the sizeable Chinese community in the Tanjung Piai, Johor parliamentary by-election that will be held this Saturday.