Don't cut subsidies for Poor Student, Gerakan Youth Press statement by Gerakan Youth secretary-general Dr Dominic Lau

Gerakan Youth urges government not to cut subsidies like reducing amount of financial aids and limit numbers of free laptops given out to the poor and deserving students.

Gerakan Youth secretary-general Dr Dominic Lau said education subsidy is one area that that would not be right for the government to reduce or withdraw abruptly.

“As such, we welcome the government’s noble effort to help increase broadband penetration in the country by giving one million free laptops to poor students of secondary schools. However, we maintain that the supply of laptops must be done through open tender,” he said, adding that no single company or group should have monopoly over the project.

Lau said since a huge sum of money is involved, precautionary measures must be taken against possible corruption, abuse of power or malpractices by any quarters.

“We do not want to see a repeat of a case as highlighted by the Auditor-General in his annual report a few years ago of a certain school buying computers at an exorbitant price,” said Lau, adding there should be greater transparency and accountability when purchases for the laptops are being done.

Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Tan Sri Khalid Ramli said on Sunday that one million laptops would be given free to poor students of secondary schools throughout the country and the government was targeting a broadband penetration level of 50% by the end of the year.

On another note, Lau urged the government not to cut subsidies for students under the Higher Education Ministry’s education programmes for students from poor families.

Lau said many students, especially those poor students in the rural or urban areas, would not be able to pursue further studies at higher institutions of learning if the subsidies are withdrawn or cut drastically.

However, Lau stressed that the Government must put in place a very stringent yet transparent mechanism to ensure only those really poor and deserving students receive those financial aids or loans.

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