Malaysiakini Letter

Be fair to TAR UC and UTAR

T K Chua  |  Published:  | 

LETTER | It is true Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) have contributed quite substantially to education in this country. If not for the opportunity provided, especially during the initial years, many students, especially the non-Malays, would have nowhere to go.

The courses provided such as professional accountancy and building management were most relevant that provided the much-needed manpower for the country.

These two institutions were not the most glamorous when compared with other universities/colleges but they have done their job reasonably well based on tight budget and in terms of quality of students produced. Tuition fees imposed are substantially lower when compared with other private universities.

The present predicament of TAR UC and UTAR is their association with MCA, the coalition partner of ruling BN before the government changed hand. My question is: is it fair to punish these two institutions immediately without giving them sufficient leeway for adjustment?

It is a historical fact that TAR UC and UTAR were initiated and promoted by MCA at the time when tertiary education opportunities were lacking in the country. These institutions have provided the lifeline to many students, especially those from smaller towns and poorer families.

Speaking as a layperson, I don’t think MCA has gained politically and financially from TAR UC and UTAR. These are essentially non-profit educational institutions serving all Malaysians, not just MCA members or its leaders.

I would prefer the new government give MCA and these two institutions more time to adjust to the new reality. To instantaneously withdraw the matching grant is unfair and draconian.

How does MCA decouple itself from TAR UC and UTAR immediately? Who shall MCA divest the institutions to? Would the new owner of TAR UC and UTAR be running these institutions on a “non-profit” basis? Which billionaire/corporation would be willing to do this on the continual basis? Would the new government be willing to buy over these two institutions?

Sometimes I think we like to carry an argument to a ridiculous level. Why can’t a political party get involved in education or any other social or economic programmes? In this regard, I fully support the idea to set up a cooperative within PKR to help and empower its members financially.

The concern about abuse is not always due to political parties controlling these programmes. It is poor governance, corruption and putting wrong people on the job.

If the new government is concerned with MCA controlling TAR UC and UTAR, I think there are better ways to handle this than just by cutting their budget allocation immediately.

These two institutions can be allowed to operate independently with minimal interference from MCA and with proper safeguards and audit. I do not see how ownership is so important here.

P/S: Maybe it is better for me to declare my “vested interest” here. I once studied in TARC for a year at a borrowed premises in a school in Cheras.

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