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Govt making every effort to alleviate burden of youths, undergrads, says PM Anwar

Publish date: Sun, 10 Dec 2023, 08:52 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — The government is making every effort to alleviate the burden of the people, particularly youths and undergraduates, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said.

Anwar, who is also finance minister, said this, however, would also depend on the government’s financial capacity.

In this regard, he said the government will hold discussions before deciding whether it should continue with the eBelia Rahmah programme, which assists youths aged 18 to 20.

“We will defer (the decision on whether to continue or not) until early next year for a reassessment, of how much revenue is coming from the customs (Royal Malaysian Customs Department). We have a new Director-General of Customs, more dynamic, more firm.

“Revenue is also increasing, and I’ve been informed revenue through the Inland Revenue Board is also increasing. If revenue goes up, Insya-Allah, we will spend it wisely,” he said at a dialogue session during the closing ceremony of the Madani Government One Year Anniversary Programme at the grounds of the Bukit Jalil National Stadium here today.

The eBelia Rahmah 2023 programme, involving a RM200 e-cash credit payout to youths aged 18 to 20 or full-time students at higher education institutions (IPT), is aimed at fostering a cashless payment culture and alleviating the financial burden of youths, which was claimed from June 26 to August 22.

Anwar was responding to a question by a member of the Universiti Malaysia Pahang Al-Sultan Abdullah (UMPSA) Student Representative Council on the eBelia Rahmah initiative.

Meanwhile, Anwar said the government would gradually improve basic facilities in public universities using several methods as this year’s allocation was more needs-based.

He said these facilities include toilets and 5G telecommunication network coverage in dormitories, besides also assuring additional projects at the university level.

Responding to students’ grouses that the Menu Siswa Rahmah initiative with meals offered at RM3.50 was not being implemented at several universities, the prime minister instructed Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin to take up the matter with all universities.

In another development, Anwar said the government is currently making efforts to improve the quality of engineering training, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and artificial intelligence (AI) to meet the needs of the industry and investors, including Tesla’s chief executive officer Elon Musk.

“So, we must have a comprehensive revamp of the education programme... I spoke to Fadhlina Sidek (Education Minister)... MoHE (Higher Education Ministry) to meet current needs. Training needs to progress quickly.

“The important thing now is the form of training, and we ask that all universities, the country’s education system, move towards that,” he said.

As such, he expressed concern when racial sentiments continued to be played up by certain parties, whereas focus should be given to economic issues, AI, investment and energy transition, which require the involvement of young people.

“Don’t be dragged into discussing outdated, damaging issues that create hatred among us. Isn’t there any other issue? Don’t keep telling how to hate this person or curse that person,” Anwar said, while also urging youths not to allow such provocateurs to gain attention but rather to focus on technological planning, AI and quality education.

He also urged students to master Malay, English and other languages such as Tamil and Mandarin across ethnicities.

The dialogue session also saw the participation of both Deputy Prime Ministers, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof. — Bernama

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