MP SPEAKS As the recalibration of Budget 2016 was announced yesterday, the dreams of thousands of expectant young Malaysians were shattered. These school-leavers had studied hard to attain their excellent results. They had sacrificed much time and money in hopes of the winning a government scholarship to pursue their ambitions to study in the best universities.

Unfortunately, at least 2,436 students would lose their opportunities as the government scales down the Public Service Department (JPA) scholarship programmes by 20 to 60 percent.

In his speech yesterday, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak rather misleadingly declared that the government “had agreed to continue four JPA scholarship programmes for 2016,” namely, the National Scholarship Programme, the Special Engineering Programme to Japan, Korea, Germany and France, the Bursary Programme and the First Degree Programme.

While it is true that the four programmes have not been shelved, the PM had failed to mention that they would all be experiencing significant cuts compared to last year.

The decision to reduce the intake of all four JPA scholarship programmes by 20 to 60 percent is strongly condemned, as DAP maintains that cuts should come from elsewhere.

Instead of sacrificing the future of our children, there are plenty of other unnecessary programmes that could be trimmed or even abolished - such as the Special Affairs Department, the National Civics Bureau (BTN), TalentCorp and even the National Service Training Programme.

In fact, the Pakatan Harapan Alternative Budget 2016 estimates that savings of around RM30 billion or slightly more than 10 percent of the federal budget could be achieved simply by introducing more transparent procurement policies such as open competitive tenders, dismantling of uncompetitive monopolies and reducing rent-seeking practices.

Furthermore, Malaysians cannot accept such huge cuts for educational opportunities when corruption, leakages and financial scandals abound.

Already, tens of billions of ringgit have been flushed down the drain through major scandals such as 1MDB, the Port Klang Free Zone and the Bank Negara Forex scandal, to name a few.

According to financial watchdog Global Financial Integrity’s latest report published last month, Malaysia lost a total of US$48.25 billion in 2013 alone through illegal capital outflows stemming from tax evasion, crime, corruption, and other illicit activities.

When RM500 million can be paid out as “commission” for the purchase of submarines and RM250 million in soft loans can be given to people with no experience but plenty of connections, it is nothing short of a travesty that more than 2,000 young, hard-working Malaysians with great potential will be denied opportunities to further their studies.

Source from Zairil Khir Johari -MalaysiaKini-
ZAIRIL KHIR JOHARI is the MP for Bukit Bendera and DAP parliamentary spokesperson for Education, Science and Technology.

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