Chinese schools told to shun dubious donors

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PETALING JAYA: A DAP official has advised Chinese schools to reject donations from individuals or groups suspected to be involved in illegal activities.

Liew Chin Tong, who heads his party’s political education bureau and is the MP for Kluang, said it was important for schools to check the background of anyone offering donations.

“The schools should not cultivate the mindset that when they get money from donors, they should just take it without asking questions,” he told FMT.

He was speaking in support of a statement by Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon, who on Sunday commented on reports that Zhang Jian, the self-proclaimed “world’s future richest man”, had offered donations to nine Chinese independent schools and a primary school through his Zhang Jian Jewellery Education Foundation.

“We hope donors are sincere in helping to boost Chinese education and they are not donating to achieve other motives,” Chong told reporters in Seremban.

Last week, Dong Zong (United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia) said it had rejected donations from Zhang due to his controversial background.

Liew said schools should uphold integrity and be role models to students by not taking money from dubious personalities.

“Zhang Jian is a problematic person,” he said.

But not everyone agrees with such a view.

Vernacular education activist K Arumugam said it was not up to the schools to check on donors’ backgrounds.

“It is beyond a school’s scope to conduct checks on money donated,” he said. That responsibility should be shouldered by government agencies, he added.

Arumugam, who is adviser to the Tamil Foundation, said donors who gave funds to Tamil schools were doing it to further a good cause.

“It is not that they will get anything in return when they give money to us,” he said. “The schools are run by the government and their boards of directors. It’s not for the donors to decide how a school should be run.”

Zhang is a Chinese national. He first made the news in Malaysia in 2014 when he came to promote his company’s direct selling model, YSLM. He fled from the country in that year when authorities began investigating him over allegations of cheating.

He was arrested in Thailand in late 2014 with five people, including his wife.

He resurfaced in Malaysia last month and held two grand dinners for subscribers to YSLM. The company was said to have paid RM1,000 to guests who appeared at the dinner with their hair shaved or dyed yellow.

A news report last Wednesday said Indonesia had extradited Zhang to China to face charges there.