Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has accused Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak of reducing the budget allocation for education by 20 percent, thus showing that the BN government is undermining the role of education.
Giving his keynote address on free education at Universiti Industri Selangor today, Anwar (right), who is also Permatang Pauh MP, said when he was the deputy prime minister and finance minister, the two highest allocations went to the education and health sectors as it is for the people’s benefit.
“Ideally, a nation should allocate 20 percent of its Gross Domestic Product to education. However, in Malaysia, we see the BN government reducing its budget in education.
“In 2012, the Education Ministry was allocated RM50 billion for education purposes and in 2013, the BN government had reduced it to RM37 (actually it is RM38.7) billion. Never before has a government reduced its allocation towards education, and this is about a 20 percent reduction,” he said.
Anwar added that focus should be towards proper management and good governance, as the Pakatan government aspires to provide free education up to the university level.
He said that it is only through good and quality education, that one can build a good civilisation that a nation aspires to become.
Showing the examples of the Selangor and Penang governments which have managed to increase their reserves to RM2.5 billion and RM2 billion respectively, Anwar said that Malaysia as a whole has suffered a deficit in excess of RM500 billion, which is worrying.
To help provide free education, Anwar said Pakatan proposes that if it wins the impending elections, it will plug the leakages through good governance and proper management.
This will include renegotiating with the independent power producers which are purchasing diesel at subsidised rates and selling energy to Tenaga Nasional Berhad at a high price.
“In the end, we as consumers have to fork out more due to the higher price of electricity and this is not right and proper for the well-being of the country,” he said.
Pakatan, he said, will also cut or eliminate corruption which is seen as enriching crony companies like the Selangor Umno Wanita chief (Raja Ropiaah Raja Abdullah) where Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera funds had to be used to support and bail out the alleged crony.
In addition, Anwar said they will curb the illicit transfer of funds to foreign countries which in 2010, accounted to RM190 billion, and also use funds derived from oil and palm oil exports which account for RM150 billion.
“We would rely on our domestic resources to provide the facilities for free education. These include doing away with the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN). When the PTPTN was introduced by me in 1997 it was to help students to gain education in private institutions of higher learning as there was a mushrooming of private institutions.
“It is not meant to be expanded to public institutions which we see today, where students at public universities are having to take the PTPTN loan under the BN government,” he said.
Challenge by Turkish PM
Anwar said when he was released from Sungai Buloh prison, he and his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail went to meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, where he recounted the challenges of having to provide free tertiary education to Turkish villagers.
“That is his ambition and this differs from the BN government which ignores the plight of its people in receiving quality tertiary education. Recep has also challenged me to provide free education in a race with Turkey if I become prime minister.
“I think Malaysia with its vast resources, and with proper management and good governance, this (free education) is attainable,” he said.
Not only that, he said maybe we (Pakatan) would also look into providing free computers to university students.
Maybe, he said, this can be achieved with the Selangor Pakatan government, he said in hinting to Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, who was also present.