DAPSY Called For Free Education For Sarawakians in Any Preferred University

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Media Statement By George Lam:

Lam highlighted the importance of free tertiary education as a way to motivate more Sarawakians to pursue higher studies and give back to the State after completing their studies.

“But the limitation of only students choosing to study in any of the five State-owned universities as announced by the people’s representatives in the State government is truly a disappointment for the people of Sarawak.”

“If one from an underprivileged family would like to be benefited under this policy, he or she only can choose to study in any of the five State-owned universities.”

“These universities may not offer the courses he or she prefers to study, such as Law or Medicine, but because their family cannot afford to pay for their tertiary education, they have no choice but to continue studying the courses he or she does not prefer at any of the five State-owned universities,” he asserted.

Lam, who is also Democratic Action Party (DAP) Socialist Youth (Dapsy) Sarawak secretary, opined that the policy not only restricts fellow Sarawakians from choosing tertiary education institutions, but also appears to be “monopolising the market of tertiary education here in Sarawak”.

He added that Sarawakians can only study at any of the five State-owned universities to benefit from the policy, rather than other universities where they must pay a school fee.

“Free education limited to the five State-owned universities will reduce the willingness of other local or international institutions to set up branches here in Sarawak.

“Existing branches of local and international institutions here in Sarawak may face the issue of less intakes, and in the long term, they may suspend their operations here in Sarawak,” he claimed.”

Lam continued: “I urge the State government to continue to scrutinise this policy and involve all stakeholders such as students, parents, and all operating higher education institutions in Sarawak in the policymaking process. Ensure no one is being left behind in this policy.

I suggest that Yayasan Sarawak should open up applications for free tertiary education to all students, no limitation on the preferred university, allowing students to choose their own courses and university to continue their studies. This allows students to choose their courses and does not disturb the tertiary education market in Sarawak. For me, this is a win-win situation.

“I believe if this suggestion is considered and implemented by the State government, the chances of Fudan University or Tsing-Hua University to set up branches here in Sarawak will increase. If the State government still insists on the current looks of this policy, Sarawak will lose the chance to get more tertiary education institutions to set up branches here in Sarawak. The one who loses is not the State government but the people of Sarawak.”

Lam also stated that DAP and DAPSY fully support the initiative to provide free education to Sarawakians.

“But the government must look into the implementing model of this policy, ensure that all stakeholders are being taken care of and ensure that this is a comprehensive policy for Sarawakians.”

“DAP as the opposition party in Sarawak will continue to monitor any government policy and be the people’s voice in Sarawak,” he added.