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TAR UC board’s composition violates rules, claims alumni group

Koh Jun Lin

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The composition of the Tunku Abdul Rahman University College’s eight-member board of trustees violates rules set forth by the Companies Commission of Malaysia, Education Ministry, and the Finance Ministry, claims alumni group TARCian Alumni Association.

This is because all eight members are either current or former MCA senior leaders.

“These individuals from a single political party holds ultimate control over the TARC Education Foundation (TEF), thus violating the regulations of the CCM, MOE, and MOF - the composition of the TEF board of trustees shall maintain at least 50 percent of the total number of trustees being third parties having no connection with TEF or any of its founders without any political background,” it said in a statement today.

It claimed that this had been the case since 2013 when TAR College was upgraded to university college status.

The statement did not cite the exact regulation that had been violated.

In a separate statement, however, TAA legal advisor Kenny Ng said this was a condition imposed by the CCM on its incorporation, by the MOF for its tax-exempt status, and by the MOE for its licencing as a private university.

“Such a condition imposed by the government and the law is the norm for any foundation meant for a public purpose like TARC Education Foundation on the grounds of public policy considerations.

“Otherwise, a foundation with a tax-exempt status can be easily abused as a vehicle for tax evasion, money laundering activities, and even criminal breach of trust.

“Suffice to add that currently someone renowned and powerful is charged in court accused of abusing his foundation for some of these crimes,” he said.

Ng also noted that the government had funded TAR UC’s precursor, TAR College, from 1969 to 2013 as a public institution. Despite this, not a sen was paid to the government when it was privatised and taken over by MCA in 2013.

As a private institution, it is also technically not entitled to any public funding, he said.

“Hence the need for at least the aforesaid 50 percent independent representation in its board of trustees for public policy consideration of transparency, checks and balances, accountability and good corporate governance since TARC Education Foundation is the trustee and custodian of public money and assets by the billions in ringgit terms,” he said.

MCA and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng is currently embroiled in a feud over government funding for TAR UC.

Lim had made it a precondition that MCA relinquishes control over TAR UC before the government resumes funding TAR UC directly.

As a temporary solution, he had appointed TAA to set up a trust fund that would channel up to RM40 million annually from the government to TAR UC and its students.

In turn, MCA had accused the government of reneging on a legal obligation to fund TAR UC and of playing politics with education.

Meanwhile, TAA questioned MCA and the board of trustees for supposedly failing to raise the issue of funding after it was only allocated RM30 million per year in 2017 and 2018.

This is in contrast to the cabinet’s purported 2013 commitment to provide up to RM60 million in matching grants.

“Since the annual allocation is less than RM60 million, why didn't MCA and the board of trustee members oppose the government then?

“TAA has been instrumental in successfully getting RM40 million government funding for TAR UC by surpassing politics; however such efforts and good gesture expressed by the (Pakatan Harapan) government were distorted by some irresponsible politicians, thus resulting in TAR UC and the Chinese community being used for political gain,” the association said.

Ng added that BN’s promised RM60 million per annum matching grant was strictly on best endeavour basis and had been tied to various terms and conditions from the start.

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