Not good sign
that special envoy to Higher Education Minister does not have the latest
figures about the number of foreign students in Malaysia – raising the
fundamental question as to his real role and rationale of appointment
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Wednesday): In his first official speech as special envoy to the Higher Education Ministry addressing private institution and college practitioners, Datuk Seri Mohd Effendi Norwawi cited figures from the Research Division of the Private Education Department and said that the country hosts 39,577 international students.
He said the government plans to increase this to 50,000 by next year and expects to earn RM1 billion a year based on each student’s estimated spending of RM23,000 a year. (New Straits Times)
It is not good sign that the special envoy to Higher Education Minister does not have the latest figures about the number of foreign students in Malaysia – raising the fundamental question as to his real role and rationale of appointment.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, when presenting the 2005 Budget in his capacity as Finance Minister on 10th September 2004, had given very different figures.
In para 66 of his budget speech, Abdullah said Malaysia has emerged as a centre of excellence for education and that “At present, there are 51,000 foreign students in Malaysia from 130 countries”. Why is the special envoy for higher education talking about the government targeting to increase international students to 50,000 by next year, when this target had already been exceeded according to Abdullah’s budget speech a month ago?
It is a matter of grave concern that the Prime Minister’s call for a “First World Infrastructure, First World Mentality” has failed to evoke any positive response not only from the general public service, as testified by unending mega construction scandals like the eight-year delay in completion of the RM200 million MATRADE Building; the RM238 million Middle Ring Road Two (MRR2) flyover cracks scandal and the RM500 million Sultan Ismail Hospital, Pandan, Johore Bahru which has to be closed down after opening for two months because of fungi infection.
Even at the Cabinet level, the Prime Minister’s call for “First World Infrastructure, First World Mentality” has failed to evoke any positive response, as evident from more and more instances of wrong, misleading and inaccurate statements by Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries in Parliament.
Yesterday for instance, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Ministry, Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman when asked by the DAP MP for Ipoh Barat, M. Kulasegaran and myself during the winding-up of the debate on the Foreign Ministry, clearly did not know that Malaysia had not ratified the 1998 Rome Treaty setting up the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC).
Malaysia had criticized the United States for failing to ratify and endorse the establishment of the ICC, but Zainal was unable to offer any explanation for Malaysia’s refusal to ratify the ICC as a responsible member of the international community, as he did not know the status as to whether Malaysia had ratified the Rome Treaty!
The Prime Minister must pull up the jumbo-sized Cabinet by the bootstraps and inculcate in all Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliametnary Secretaries the “First World Infrastructure, First World Mentality” to set an example to the rest of the public and private sectors and the civil society, as there is no way Malaysia can achieve “First World Mentality” when the Cabinet are in the forefront in demonstrating “Third World Mentality”.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman