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How can Malaysia have a starving university population?

I refer to the news that many of my countryman students at varsities are not able to eat and can’t express enough of my utter shock and horror at such poverty in the midst of our prosperous Malaysia, where Budget 2016 was touted to be an inclusive and welfare budget for people of all levels in the country.

What have we become when future leaders of this country are not able to eat here and now at university? How can they concentrate on educating themselves? I salute the efforts of Muslim Volunteer Malaysia Association (MVM) in bringing this to the public’s attention, as well as helping these poor starving souls.

The note - purported to be left by someone who borrowed a few dollars from the surau (if indeed this is true) - is a timely reminder of how bad things have become for some people.

I know of many who worked - and some still working - in my office that pursued their studies with National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans, and even then could not meet all their expenses. Worse still, when they graduate it is another never-ending cycle of trying to make ends meet while attempting to pay back these loans.

Personally, I believe that primary to tertiary education should be free for all citizens. Malaysia can afford it, but we need to engineer our spending so that wasteful and needless expenses are eliminated, and funds are made available for education and health costs.

Maybe for a start, we can abolish the National Civics Bureau (BTN), the National Service Training Programme (NS), and the Special Affairs Department (Jasa), then channel the saved funds for our children’s education.

It is also my opinion that taxpayers’ money should not be used to fund/give scholarships for overseas education, as one overseas scholarship can probably fund more than 10 students locally.

Those who want to study overseas should use their own money, whereas funding and free education should only be provided if they study locally.

Pay and bring good lecturers here, this way our best and brightest will be with us in Malaysia and their intelligence will rub off on the rest of the students.

Needless Masters and PhDs

Right now we send all our clever children overseas, then complain that our local graduates are no good - and then spend another fortune in setting up various outfits to convince these students we sent overseas to come back and serve the country. Isn’t it easier if we don’t use taxpayers’ funds and send them out in the first place?

More funds can also be saved if government agencies and statutory bodies don’t keep sending their employees for needless Masters and PhDs locally and overseas.

Taxpayers’ money should be first used for free education until the tertiary level, and only if we have loose change after should we mess about with Masters and PhDs. Since we don’t have enough, let’s use all our funds on the university students’ tertiary education first.

The surplus funds of government agencies, statutory bodies and government-linked companies (GLCs) are not meant for individual outfits to spend as they wish; it should be passed over to the government’s consolidated funds so that the whole country can benefit.

We can start with free education first, and stop starving the university population with the extra funds. This problem should have never happened in Malaysia - it is embarrassing and ridiculous.