Sin Chew Daily
MCA president Wee Ka Siong announced on Wednesday that the finance ministry had reached an agreement with TARC Education Foundation to set aside RM58 million in allocation for TAR UC.
Indeed the news came much to the relief of the local Chinese community.
The administrative allocation provided by the former BN government was drastically slashed after Pakatan Harapan took over the federal administration following its unexpected win in the 2018 general elections. Only RM5.5 million of development allocation was set aside by the PH government in the 2019 Budget, cut further to RM1 million in Budget 2020, causing much furor in the Chinese community. Then finance minister Lim Guan Eng was accused of using the TAR UC allocation as a tool to politicize education.
Lim then said the government would restore the allocation on condition that MCA was willing to forego TAR UC ownership. but MCA was not going to give in to such demand. Heated debates ensued as both sides were not ready to give way, offering the public a unique opportunity to re-inspect the role and status of TAR UC in the Malaysian Chinese community.
Majority of Chinese Malaysians are of the opinion that Chinese students have been denied higher education opportunities because of the government's biased tertiary educational policies in force since the 1970s, and the establishment of TAR college has provided them an additional channel to gain access to higher education in the country.
At the same time, the relatively affordable tuition fees means many local Chinese families which could not afford more expensive tuition fees overseas can now send their children to a college.
Since its inception, TAR College has nurtured a huge number of talented young Malaysians who have subsequently made significant contributions towards the well-being of the nation and society. It is not only an asset to the Malaysian Chinese community but the nation as a whole.
The drastic cut in TAR UC allocation will invariably add to the burden of the Chinese community and this translates into loss for the country's education.
As a matter of fact, Chinese Malaysians are not the only beneficiaries of affordable TAR UC education, as many Malay and Indian families have also sent their children to the college.
Thanks to MCA's persistent efforts, the new PN government now restores the administrative allocations for the college provided by the government from 1969 through 2018, and has pledged to set aside additional RM40 million for the college under Budget 2020.
Additionally, the finance ministry has also withdrawn the balance RM18 million allocation for TAA Education Trust Fund (TAA-ETF) set up under the auspices of the previous PH administration. This whole sum will now be handed back to the college. The finance ministry is of the view that it is unnecessary to transfer government allocation to the college via a third party entity.
MCA shows that it has done something by settling the TAR UC allocation issue, and this will help recoup some lost public faith and support. Meanwhile, the PN government has also somewhat closed the gap between itself and the local Chinese community by fulfilling its long-standing wish.
This incident serves as a stern warning to all political parties in the country not to exploit education issues as a tool in their political squabble or risk inflicting harm on themselves for sacrificing public interests.