Is TAR UC the BTN of Malaysian Chinese?

The TAR UC main campus in Jalan Genting Kelang, Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: Has the Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) carried out indoctrination exercises for its students to go against the DAP and its coalition partners in the past and continues to do so?

This seems to be the suggestion by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng following the second consecutive year of denying the matching grant of RM30 million for the university that was founded by MCA, which had been part of the Barisan Nasional government for 60 years prior to the last general election in May 2018.

Maybe the DAP secretary-general believes that TAR UC is MCA’s equivalent of the infamous National Civics Bureau, or as it is better known “Biro Tata Negara (BTN)”.

Is that why he had reduced the allocation for TAR UC’s development expenses to RM5.5 million in Budget 2019, and further slashed it down to a mere RM1 million in the Budget 2020 announced last Friday?

Is that why Lim has called for the established higher-education institution to sever all ties with MCA before it is allocated the RM30 million that it had been receiving for many years.

Does he have proof that MCA had used TAR UC and UTAR to further its political goals?

Low tuition fees

Such government funding which had been increasing over the years (until Budget 2019) had helped to maintain low tuition fees for students, who are mostly from the poorer segment of society.

With its affordable fees, said to be the lowest among all university colleges, aside from its reputation for effective professional and technical sources, TAR UC and its sister university Universiti Tuanku Abdul Rahman (UTAR, set up in 2001), has nurtured close to 200,000 graduates. Some of these graduates are also DAP leaders who are now part of the current government.

Not surprisingly, the Chinese community seems to be split with many hardcore supporters of DAP standing by their chief due to their lifelong anger towards MCA. However, some in DAP are also known to have voiced their displeasure.

The reason behind this is simple. Though founded and indelibly linked with MCA, TAR UC and UTAR are not run by MCA.

Run by professionals not politicians

UTAR too does not have any MCA members in its board. The board members are mostly professionals not politicians.

Students of these two higher-education institutions will also vouch for the fact that MCA had never preached politics within the campus. Ironically, it is believed that a vast majority of its students and their parents had even voted for Pakatan Harapan in GE14.

So, are these students and parents now paying the price for their vote for a better Malaysia being turned into a vindictive move by the DAP against its main rival for the Chinese vote in the country?

Yes, TAR UC and UTAR are owned by MCA. That to some degree can be viewed as being politically-controlled. But, so what?

How about universities behind Malay Dignity Congress?

Isn’t Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) also politically controlled?

How about the other public universities – Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) dan Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) – which with UiTM had organised and fully supported the Malay Dignity Congress recently? Are they not politically-controlled too?

Playing to Dr Mahathir’s tune

It would seem that Lim Guan Eng has lifted a classic move from the playbook by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, especially in his first 22 years as PM from 1981 to 2003.

That is to force institutions and organisations to do their bidding or face the brunt of their displeasure at the expense of the people.

Let’s look back to when this tactic was effectively used to change the face of media since the 1980s.

After the The Star and Sin Chew Jit Poh were suspended in October 1987, the then (and current) prime minister, who was also home minister at the time, is said to have pressured the owners of both media organisations to relinquish their holdings in favour of BN-friendly owners.

The Star was eventually sold to a company directly linked to MCA while Sin Chew was taken over by Sarawak timber tycoon Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King, who was also a BN politician in Sibu.

Community to raise the shortfall

Some in the Chinese community are thumbing their noses at Lim however, reminding him that even though he is now going against what he had protested when in opposition – lack of government funding for Chinese educational institutions – the community was not going to abandon their own.

As MCA is not likely to give up their links to TAR UC and UTAR, they will find no lack of financial support to cover the funds denied by DAP with many well-to-do and ordinary Malaysian Chinese ready and willing to support these two institutions of higher education.

– New Malaysia Times