Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Putrajaya to offer 500 1MDB grants to top students

Putrajaya moved again today to soothe public anger in the recent scholarship fiasco, announcing 500 special education grants to be disbursed by 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) to rejected applicants.

Last year, the government-owned strategic investment agency disbursed RM16 million in grants to 300 SPM and 30 STPM top scorers.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz (picture) told a press conference today that top scorers who failed to obtain full scholarships from the Public Service Department (PSD) will be given the 1MDB grants to study in local government and private universities.

He said the applicants will not be required to go through another interview process but stressed that they must fulfil at least three criteria — academic achievements of 8A+ and above, parents’ income level at RM5,000 and below and those with sponsorships from other agencies cannot apply.

“If those with 8A+ and above already have grants, then we will go to students with 7A+ and above and so on. But, they must fulfil these basic requirements,” he said.

He added that the 500 grants will be divided according to a 60:40 ratio — 300 scholarships to Bumiputeras and 200 to non-Bumiputeras.

Those applying for critical (medicine, engineering, pharmacy, etc) or non-critical courses in government universities will be granted RM7,500 each while those applying for placements in private universities will be given RM15,000 each for critical courses and RM10,000 each for non-critical courses.

Nazri, who is in charge of the PSD, chaired a special meeting in Parliament this morning with Barisan Nasional component party leaders today to discuss the 1MDB grants and the distribution.

He said it was agreed that the criteria should be relaxed for the Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak due to the poor living conditions of many students from east Malaysia.

“We will also look at where they went to school... some of them, if they are from the rural interior of Sabah and Sarawak, the living conditions can be quite poor. So we agreed to relax the requirements to accommodate them,” he said.

He said the final distribution list will be discussed during a meeting at the PSD tomorrow with component party leaders.

Once ready, the list will be presented to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for approval before it is announced, he added.

Nazri also revealed 500 cases between 2000 and May 31 this year of PSD scholarship holders who failed to return to serve the government even after completing their studies.

He said that despite breaking their bond with the PSD, the students also refused to repay their scholarships to the government.

Of the total, he said 145 cases are currently still active and the Attorney-General’s Chambers is in the process of issuing court notices. A total of 160 cases are in the process of settlement (some have returned to serve the government or are repaying through instalments) and for the remaining 195 cases, the A-G’s Chambers is in the process of getting court orders.

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