Call on Malaysian Government to reduce the Fourth Malaysia Plan defence expenditure by 10%

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at the jalan Templer DAP Branch Thousand-People Solidarity Dinner in Seremban on Saturday, 20th June 1981 at 8 p.m.

Call on Malaysian Government to reduce the Fourth Malaysia Plan defence expenditure by 10% and devote the savings of $430 million to start a revolving student loan fund to enable non-Malay students to pay for their higher studies

Recently, the MCA has come out with another one of its new tricks, namely KOJADI, purportedly to help needy students to pursue higher studies.

To borrow $20,000 for his child’s higher education locally or overseas in an approved institution,a participant must but at least $2,000 worth of KOJADI shares and had participated in the scheme for at least five years. The child’s name must be nominated at the very beginning.

The MCA hopes to get $100 million to $200 million in this way for its KOJADI educational fund.

From the terms of the KOJADI Scheme, it is obvious that although it is publicized as a Higher Education Loan Scheme, in actual fact the overwhelming majority of those who subscribe to it would not be entitled to get a educational loan in five years’ time.

This is because with every passing year, the chances of our children getting higher educational opportunities are becoming more and more restricted.

For instance, from 1970 to 1980, Chinese students in the five local universities increased from 3,752 to 5,450 (a paltry increase of 45%) as compared to the increase of Malay students from 3,084 to 13,138, which represented an increase of 326%.

Abroad, higher educational opportunities for Malaysian students are also diminishing due to ever-escalating educational and living costs to the extent where the United Kingdom, which once educated the majority of overseas Malaysian students at the tertiary level, have been priced beyond the means of ordinary Malaysians – and where even the $20,000 Kojadi loan may not be able to meet one year’s expenses in the UK!

At the average, only about 3or 4% of the total school-going population has the opportunity to attain university education. If we go by this average, it will mean that only 3 or 4% of those who participate in KOJADI scheme can benefits from the loan scheme.

But there is another hitch. A participant has to nominate the child on whose behalf he wanted to take out the $20,000 loan five years before he is entitled to do so. Five years later, because of changing circumstances, he wanted another child instead to pursue higher studies, he would not be able to benefit from the scheme – unless he participates to the extent of $2,000 for each one of his children! Must as every parent want all his children to receiver university education, who can predict the future five years in advance with regard to every child?

Furthermore, it is up to KOJADI to decide which approved institution overseas is entitled to the loan scheme.

If in five years’ time, the Education Ministry issues an approved list of institutions abroad, and KOJADI, whether through overt or convert pressure, complies with this list, then KOJADI members will again face another restriction in drawing on KOJADI student scheme.

All in all, the KOJADI scheme is a diversionary tactic of the mc, a component government party, to distract the people from the central issue, namely, the government’s responsibility to provide higher education opportunities for Malaysian students, regardless of race.

In the past, Malays were educationally backward especially in the higher reaches of the educational system. The non-Malays do not begrudge the government making special efforts to rectify this historical imbalance, which has not been created by the non-Malays. However, the non-Malays have the right to expect and demand that in the rectification of such historical educational imbalance, the government should not create new injustices and inequalities by denying deserving non-Malay students opportunities for higher education.

The overwhelming number of Malay students in university education that receive government scholarships and bursaries. The non-Malays would be content if the government could provide them with places, or with a government higher education loan in universities and institutions overseas, which are repayable on graduation.

Malaysia is now a flush with petrol-dollars, and there is considerable extravagance and irresponsible spending by the political leaders in government. Considerable saving could be effected in many areas.

For instance, the Barisan Nasional government intend to spend $4,300 million on defence purchases under the Forth Malaysia Plan. The government can more usefully reduce the Fourth Malaysia Plan defence expenditures by 10%, and devote the saving of $430 million to start a revolving student loan fund to enable non-Malay students who could not find local universities places to pursue university education in institutions abroad.

This is what the MCA Ministers should be aiming to do in Cabinet, so that the taxpayers’ funds are properly devoted for the interests of their children and the nation.

In starting the KOJADI, the MCA is dealing with the symptoms, and not the source of the problem. What is worse, it is only touching some of the symptoms, without encompassing all the symptoms.

But the greatest disservice of KOJADI is the impression it would create in UMNO minds that the Chinese can fend for themselves as far as higher educational opportunities are concerned, and that there is no need to deal with changes in government policy and approach involving the expansion university places including establishing new universities and the allowing of private universities, and the government’s shouldering the responsibility of enabling poor non-Malays to receive university education. In the end, it is the Chinese students who would suffer most from the KOJADI scheme of MCA!