Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim committed "a factual mistake" yesterday when he said government scholarships for overseas study over the last five years were awarded based on merit and not race, said the opposition.
DAP national vice-chairman Teresa Kok (pic, left) said Shahidan should retract his misleading remarks because the truth was not all the Public Services Department (PSD) scholarships were awarded based on merit.
She noted that on June 30, 2010, Datuk Nazri Abd Aziz, who was Minister in the Prime Minister's Department then, revealed that the 1,500 scholarships given to Malaysians to pursue degrees abroad that year were allocated under four categories.
The first category was merit, with 80% of the 300 scholarships going to non-Bumiputeras and the rest to Bumiputeras. As for the 900 scholarships awarded based on race, 557 (61.88%) went to Bumiputeras, with Malays getting 480, East Malaysians 74 and three to others.
Kok said in May the following year, Nazri revealed that of the 1,500 scholarships, 300 (20%) were under the merit category, 900 (60%) under the racial composition category, 150 (10%) under the Sabah and Sarawak Bumiputera category and 150 (10%) under the socially disadvantaged category.
"Shahidan has definitely committed a factual mistake when he said that the scholarships were given based on merit and not according to racial composition,” said Kok.
Why then, she questioned, that 60% of the scholarships were awarded under the racial composition category?
"It is obvious that Shahidan has not been properly briefed about the PSD scholarships and he should therefore seek the correct answers and retract his misleading remarks," she said in a statement today.
Shahidan (pic, right), in a press conference yesterday, said PSD scholarships from 2008 to 2012 showed that non-Malay students were not sidelined as deserving students were given the funds.
He said out of the 2,000 scholarships offered in 2008, 900 were given to non-Bumiputeras while the rest went to Bumiputeras.
He also said in 2009, 924 out of 2,100 scholarships were given to non-Bumiputera students; in 2010, 779 (out of 1,750); in 2011, 618 (out of 1,500); and in 2012, 120 (out of 300).
Kok, who is also Seputeh MP, said Shahidan should also explain the reason for the decreasing number of scholarships since 2009, which went down to only 300 in 2012.
"Was cost the reason for the decreasing number of scholarships given out since 2009?
"If that was the reason, it is not justifiable when the prime minister (Datuk Seri Najib Razak) has failed to rein in his own department's spending and has allocated RM16.45 billion in the Budget 2014 for it, making it the fourth costliest ministry in Malaysia, after the Education, Finance and Health ministries," she added. – October 30, 2013.