Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 2nd June 2009:
Have MARA run out of funds leaving hundreds stranded without their bumiputera student loans – and how can such a financial scandal happen?
Has MARA run out of funds leaving hundreds stranded without their bumiputera student loans – and how can such a financial scandal happen?
I have received the following email from a Malay student in a private college:
“I am 21. My father left the family in 1995 and since then my mother has been taking care of the family by herself. I have two other elder sisters, all of whom are working now. My mother was a teacher but now she is retired. She is taking care of the family by herself with the pension she receives every month.
“I studied in … School and later at International Islamic College (IPTS), taking a diploma in computer science. I was a self-sponsored student in IIC.
“I was supported by my mother since she could afford it back then but I had to keep to a really tight budget. Although we were in a quite a difficult financial situation back then, I didn’t waste any time and studied hard.
“I was in the dean’s list every semester until I graduated, with an overall CGPA of 3.931. After graduating, I worked for one year as a technician to gain some experience before I furthered my studies at …College, taking Bachelor in Computer Science.
“In December 2008, I went to … College to enquire about their courses and other details such as the fees. My enquiries was handled by Mr. … and he helped me a lot with my documentations. I asked him if there’s any financial aid for bumiputera students and he said that most bumiputera students in …are sponsored by MARA and he encouraged me to apply for the same MARA loan (discounts apply if my results are good).
“In early January 2009, I went to see … again to submit my application form, but I didn’t submit it together with the MARA form as the deadline for the MARA loan application is on the 14th of March 2009. I paid RM4750.00 as part of my first semester fees. I was told that the remainder will be settled by MARA when the MARA loan is approved.
“… I submitted my (MARA) form on the 14th of March 2009. I was made to understand that this is the deadline for both January (Foundation students) and February (degree students) intakes. The application forms for both the intakes will be compiled and sent to MARA HQ after the deadline.
“Recently, on the 28th of May 2009, I went to MARA marketing office in …to check my application status. When I arrived, I asked the same officer about my application and she said ‘Sorry but right now all loan applications are frozen because MARA doesn’t have the funds to support students’. She said that all other students nationwide are affected, not just students from …College.
“When I asked how long must we wait till MARA has the funds, she said ‘We don’t know. We keep calling MARA HQ and they keep asking us to check back one week after another, delaying. Maybe some politicians have their own agenda, even the students who applied in January also has had their loan application frozen’. I was shocked to hear this because when I asked her about the probability of a student like me getting the loan, she practically said it was virtually guaranteed as I had nothing to worry about if I got my application form in order.
“Worst of all, there is no black and white notification saying our applications are frozen and why it is frozen. We were not contacted at all! We weren’t even stopped from applying for the loan if indeed MARA had run out of funds. If I didn’t follow-up and check on my application, I don’t know when will they tell me the true status of my application, if they are planning to do so in the first place. MARA running out of funds seem a far-fetched reason to me. If it is true, perhaps MARA should come clean on its current situation instead of leaving all of us in the dark.
“I am not begging for the MARA loan but there were no notification given that our applications are frozen nor were we stopped from applying for it, giving us false hope. If MARA had told me earlier, I would have tried to find other alternatives to finance my studies. Now with the final exams three weeks away, I am left with this huge problem as I’ve only settled a part of the first semester fees. I can only hope that …College will allow me to sit for the exams while I try to sort out this problem.
“I find this MARA absurdity very funny. Where did the funds of this big organization which is under Kementerian Kemajuan Luar Bandar dan Wilayah go?”
I call on the Minister for Rural and Regional Development, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal to personally look into this problem and explain to all stranded MARA students as well as their parents where have the millions of ringgit approved by Parliament for purposes loans to bumiputera students gone to.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor