Govt will review overseas student sponsorship programme

PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Harapan secretariat chief Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said it is necessary for the new government to relook into the existing overseas student sponsorship programme.

Saifuddin explained that such a move is necessary as the existing programme is based on the financial status at which the time when the sponsorship is made available.

"While I am confident that the government will give its focus and attention towards the issue, there are some other things which I hope the government can review or look into as well," Saifuddin said during a press conference at PPBM headquarters yesterday after meeting student representatives applying for overseas sponsorship.

Among the issues Saifuddin hoped the government can look into are whether or not the government will reinstate the scholarship programme, the quantum or numbers of students that will be sent abroad each year, and which field of studies that we should send the students to overseas.

"Other issues to look at include the scholarship amount and whether or not the existing living allowance is sufficient for those under the local scholarship programme," he said.

He added that the existing sponsorship agencies also need to be allocated with more funds so that they can sponsor more students.

"This, however, we need to first look at the nation need as we cannot keep sending our top students to overseas universities. There is a need to strike a balance," he mentioned.

He then pointed out that even though the new Cabinet will only be having their first meeting today (Wednesday), this issue needs to be given immediate attention as the first batch of overseas students will be in September.

"New policies need to be made, terms of reference need to be established," he said, adding that he had sent the necessary notes to the newly appointed Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik regarding this issue.

On other matter, Saifuddin said it is up to the Prime Minister to decide on the necessity to have someone from East Malaysia to be appointed as the second deputy prime minister.

"The decision is in the PM's hand but as of now, the PH presidential council is not pushing for the proposal," he said, adding that PH had earlier promised the government lineup will be smaller than the previous administration.

Saifuddin was commenting on the call by Sarawak DAP socialist youth publicity secretary Abdul Aziz Isa who had urged Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to create the position of the DPM II in the cabinet and the post to be filled by an East Malaysian.

Abdul Aziz explained that this will ensure issues relating to Malaysia's Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak can be easily dealt with.