Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (GPMS) has condemned accusations against re-elected Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad, which alleged that she did not fulfil her responsibilities during her previous tenure in the same position.
GPMS president Mohd Alif Anas Md Noor said allegations made by the University Malaya Students Union that she failed to resolve student issues and manage university students’ trips home for their semester break during the pandemic were not true and unfounded.
He said on the contrary, it was under her leadership that most of the students, especially those from Sabah and Sarawak, were able to return to their home towns despite transportation hurdles during the pandemic.
“She prioritised the safety of students and made arrangements to ensure that everyone was safe, and saw to it that students who chose not to return had their food and basic needs met,” he said.
“She introduced programmes that prioritised students’ welfare. For example, it was under her leadership that students from higher learning institutions received Internet data subsidy, a one-off financial assistance of RM200 and free laptops for those in the B40 category, involving a total cost of RM168. 3 million.
“Noraini also introduced a programme for the reduction of hostel and public university fees by at least 15 per cent, involving an allocation of RM72 million that benefited 841,464 students. So where did the minister fail?”
Alif Anas said under Noraini’s administration, the welfare of higher learning institution students during the first and second waves of Covid-19 were taken care of by the provision of free food and basic necessities to students stranded in their institutions during the Movement Control Order.
This expenditure cost the ministry RM52.2 million, and another RM17.4 million was spent to send 57,565 students back to their hometowns.
“This also covered 1,562 students from University Malaya who benefited from this programme when they were sent back to their hometowns for the break, including 386 people from Sabah and Sarawak.”
Alif Anas said GPMS, however, did not deny that there had been policy changes to adapt to the Covid-19 situation.
“The University Malaya Students Union should take the appointment in good spirit and give its full cooperation.”
He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s decision to re-elect Noraini to the position was welcomed and the ministry could continue its work.
“GPMS believes that her appointment will allow the Higher Education Ministry to continue with its plans to deal with the implications of Covid-19 at institutions of higher learning.
“The focus for the ministry now is to create a safe bubble at higher learning institutions by carrying out immunisation programmes so that we can achieve herd immunity faster.
“This is important to ensure that institutions can be safely reopened and students can return to campus to continue learning through face-to-face lectures.”