Malaysiakini News

Mara won't die if Umno loses power, says PKR

Published:  |  Modified:

Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) will not cease to exist if Umno loses power as claimed by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

It would fulfil its objective of safeguarding the bumiputera community's welfare instead of enriching a small group of bumiputera elite, said PKR Youth chief Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.

"Mara has deviated from its objectives. Those in need are not assisted, but Mara is used to benefit several individuals only.

"Hundreds of million of ringgit in losses from Mara's real estate purchases in Australia stem from a culture of corruption introduced by Umno," he said in a statement.

For example, he said under Umno stewardship Mara is forced to cut back allocations for scholarships.

Echoing him, PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin said the prime minister should realise that Mara was funded by taxpayers and not Umno.

"How childish can he be to even claim credit for something that rightfully belongs to the general public?" she asked in a statement.

She also urged Najib to focus on good governance and better education policies instead of "lobbying for support for an ailing Umno".

Najib had said that Mara was born out of "Umno's womb" and would continue as long as Umno is in power.

Speaking at the agency's 50th anniversary yesterday, Najib said half a century was not enough for Mara to undo the colonial legacy which left the Malays economically deprived.

He also announced a restructuring in Mara, where all subsidiaries will be parked under a new government-linked investment firm Mara Corporation Bhd, worth RM1.4 billion.

Mara 'product'

Responding to Nik Nazmi today, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin urged the opposition to be more specific in how Mara can improve.

Khairy said as a Mara "product", he, too, wanted the agency to succeed and continue to fund tertiary education for deserving bumiputera students.

"Mara has helped hundreds of thousands of Malaysians including myself. My university studies were sponsored by Mara. I am a Mara product and I am proud of it.

"I want to make sure those deserving continue to receive loans and assistance," he said.

Meanwhile, PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli noted that despite Najib's promise to add the number of Mara scholarships, he was receiving complaints from Mara scholars about not receiving payments due to them.

He added that this was in tandem with government cutbacks in other education schemes including myBrain and PHD sponsorship and the tightening of the National Education Loan Fund (PTPTN).

Rafizi said he planned to take up this issue and urged the public affected by these cutbacks to lodge a complaint at bit.ly/pendidikantinggi to facilitate his effort.

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