MOE urged to end deal with company making millions ‘out of thin air’ from student visas

Parti Negara’s Gobi Krishnan (3rd from right) hands over a memorandum to Maszlee Malik’s political secretary Mahmood Kasim as EMGS chairman Abdul Rahman Mohamed Shariff (2nd right) looks on.

PUTRAJAYA: A recently formed political party headed by the former political secretary of PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim has urged Education Minister Maszlee Malik to terminate a contract the previous government signed with a company in 2014 to manage foreign student visa applications.

In its memorandum handed over to Maszlee’s aides at the Ministry of Education (MOE) today, Parti Negara, which was formed last week by former PKR Youth chief Mohamad Ezam Nor, said the company made a profit of RM94 million last year, saying half of which was due to its contract with the ministry-owned Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS).

EMGS is tasked with the management and processing of student visas for international students, including ensuring health insurance coverage for foreign students.

In the memorandum today, it is claimed that the company has been charging RM1,000 per student but offers no other value added services.

It added that the bulk of the work for managing student visas is still undertaken by the Department of Immigration.

The contract was signed with the now-dissolved Ministry of Higher Education, then headed by Khaled Nordin.

Contacted by FMT, Khaled said the company was chosen through open tender.

“Whether or not it is doing its work, it is for EMGS to respond,” he said.

FMT is withholding the name of the company pending a response.

Parti Negara pro-tem vice-president S Gobi Krishnan claimed that after the contract was entered into with the government, visa processing charges per student went up by 1,200%.

He said previously, the immigration department was only charging RM160 per head.

Gobi also claimed that immigration officers were found to have been stationed at the company’s office in Kuala Lumpur and not at the immigration department.

“This violates national security,” he said in the memorandum which was received by Maszlee’s political secretary Mahmood Kassim and EMGS chairman Abdul Rahman Mohamed Shariff.

According to Abdul Rahman and Mahmood, the ministry was in the process of studying ways to terminate the contract, but said there was no “exit clause” with the company.

Gobi said the ministry should take legal action against the company and recover some RM150 million paid to it over the years.

“In 2018 alone, they made RM49 million from the contract with EMGS,” he added.

Saying Malaysia’s attraction to foreign students as an education hub has taken a beating due to the high fees on student visas, Gobi said all student visa application matters should be handled by the immigration.

“We used to be a very conducive environment for them (foreign students) to study with very cost-effective fees, but it is no longer the case.