Opposition Leaders Want Najib To "Lead By Example" Instead Of Cutting JPA Scholarships

JPA scholarships and bursaries for the Education Ministry have been suspended with no prior official notice due to shrinking national revenue.

Cover image via SAYS

Adenan Satem assures help to Sarawak students affected by the suspension of JPA Scholarships

Image via TMI

Posting on his Facebook page, the CM of Sarawak has assured help to Sarawak students affected by the suspension of JPA Scholarships.

In the post, Adenan Satem wrote, "Yes, we will help the students. I have given instruction to Yayasan Sarawak to find ways and means how best to help them. The affected students are welcomed to present their petitions to the state government."

Wee Ka Siong hits out at news portal on JPA scholarship

Be professional and stop fabricating stories, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong has told a news portal.

“Do not fabricate stories and do not make false allegations. I think they have gone overboard,” Dr Wee said after attending a business dialogue forum organised by the Secretariat for the Advan­cement of Malaysian Entrep­re­neurs (SAME) yesterday.

He was referring to the new portal’s article titled “Wee now refuses to confirm JPA scholarships suspension”.

“Since when did I confirm the announcement that PSD scholarships will be suspended by the government?” he asked.

Dr Wee said the portal did not contact him to make a “simple clarification”, adding that he was saddened by the report.

“Worse still, now they are saying Wee is blaming the media for distorting his word. I did not say anything to them,’’ he said.

22 JAN: “I did not confirm JPA scholarships are suspended,” says Wee Ka Siong

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Wee Ka Siong

Image via The Rakyat Post/SAYS

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong condemned the actions of a local news portal, saying that he had been misquoted in regards to the suspension of the Public Service Department (JPA) scholarships.

“A report today claiming that I had confirmed that the 2016 Public Service Department (JPA) scholarships had been suspended is flatly inaccurate and baseless."

“(The news portal) had neglected to contact me in order to perform a simple fact check for that article,” wrote the minister in a statement posted on his official Facebook page today.

“I cannot be held responsible if my comments are distorted. I had not announced the suspension, nor did I confirm it."

Wee said he had merely raised this subject in this week’s Cabinet meeting following the complaints he received from bursary recipients who had yet to receive financial affidavits from JPA

"In response, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has immediately instructed the chief secretary to the government and the JPA to study and submit a report to the cabinet next week," he said.

“When news of JPA stopping scholarships was spread, it caused a panic,” he said after chairing the Malaysia Chinese Education Consultative Council at Wisma MCA yesterday.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department reiterated that right now, only those who received the national bursary in 2014 were affected.

Wee added the JPA had yet to make announcements on the matter.

21 JAN: Bad news for high-achieving students. Public Service Department (JPA) scholarships and the Education Ministry's bursary for tertiary programmes have been suspended indefinitely due to the country's shrinking revenue.

Image via JPA

According to Sin Chew daily, JPA has ceased funding and halted the e-profiling system for degree and pre-university courses both locally and abroad, affecting some 700 scholarship placements this year.

Putrajaya has been struggling with shrinking revenue in the past year as the Brent crude oil price hits a 12-year low at US$27.78 (RM121.55) per barrel. In 2014, the price of crude oil was set at US$114.81 (RM502.35).

PM Najib Razak has also announced that Budget 2016 will be revised to adjust for falling revenue in a bid to optimise government optimised.

Confirming the move, Minister in the PM's Department Wee Ka Siong said he has appealed against the suspension and urged Najib to reconsider the decision at a Cabinet meeting after receiving complaints from high-achieving students

Image via The Rakyat Post

Wee urged for an urgent resolution to the matter, as some universities commence their intake as early as 1 February. He added that Najib has asked the chief secretary and JPA to submit a report with alternative solutions within a week.

"The prime minister understands that the economy is not good at the moment and the people are facing heavy burden so he has instructed the chief secretary to the government and JPA to come up with a new solution."

“I don't dare to say that there will certainly be a turn for the better, but we have already done all we can to give a full account, because we don't know how the economy will change,” Wee was quoted telling the Chinese vernacular newspaper.

Meanwhile, DAP's Anthony Loke demanded answers from the government in regards to the suspension, as the 2016 budget allocation for JPA scholarships have already been reduced from the previous year's

The Seremban MP noted that according to Budget 2016, RM1.65 billion was allocated for JPA allocations, which is a 14% reduction from 2015's RM1.93 billion.

He also pointed out that the discrepancy between a government report and Sin Chew Daily's article, stating that the 2016 Estimated Federal Expenditure had pegged 11,604 students to receive first degree scholarships from JPA while Sin Chew only highlighted that 700 students will be affected.

"The government needs to explain whether this decision to stop scholarships, as reported, would be overall and involving all students or just the 700 who are affected?” he said in a statement today. He further asked the government to explain why it was just these 700 who would be “victimised”.

“We urge the prime minister to rescind this decision and give government's full commitment that none of the excellent students who were offered scholarships this year would be sacrificed in the process of the Budget revision.

"Although falling oil prices has affected government revenue, savings and spending priority are decisions that can be made by the prime minister who is also the finance minister,” he said.

Loke also suggested that Najib "lead by example" by reducing allocations under the Prime Minister's Department if cutbacks were needed instead of targetting potential JPA scholars, especially those from lower income families

Loke said among those that could be cut are: restructuring of society (RM750 million); development program me (RM610 million); electronic government project (754.4 million); special project (RM309.4 million); people centric project (RM1.33 billion), adding that all this accumulated to RM3.75 billion.

“The five examples here under the Prime Minister's Department alone amount to RM3.75 billion. If every listed category is cut by 50%, it would be enough to maintain the JPA scholarships allocated for 2016,” he said.

PKR's Rafizi Ramli later pointed out that this is not the first nor only time the government has cut out from allocations for scholarships and study grants. He also chided Najib for the underhanded way the matter was handled as the public only found out about the suspension when it was reported.

In Budget 2016, Rafizi said, the allocation for scholarships and bursaries had also been cut, while the funding for the Poor Students Trust Fund had been reduced from RM200 million to RM10 million.

Rafizi said the fact that the people only found out about the JPA scholarship suspension through news, initially reported only in the Chinese newspapers, shows that Najib does not dare to face the rakyat to explain such decisions.

The approach that Najib is taking in Budget 2016 is becoming clearer, he argued, saying that the prime minister would rather cut spending on the people than spending on projects that involve the interests of his cronies.

JPA may be down for the count, but you can still apply for these scholarships:

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