PETALING JAYA: Any initiative by the government to help students and other youths will depend on the government’s financial capacity and expected revenue, says Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
He said the government was making every effort to alleviate the burden of the people, particularly youths and undergraduates.
Anwar, who is also finance minister, said the government would decide whether it should continue with the eBelia Rahmah programme, which assists youths aged 18 to 20, Bernama reported.
He said a decision on this had to be deferred until early next year for a reassessment on how much revenue was coming from the customs department and other sources.
“We have a new director-general of customs, who is more dynamic and firm. Revenue is also increasing.
“I’ve also been informed that revenue through the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) is increasing.
“If revenue goes up, we will spend it wisely,” he said at a dialogue session during the closing ceremony of the Madani government’s one-year anniversary programme at the grounds of the Bukit Jalil National Stadium here today.
The eBelia Rahmah 2023 programme was carried out from June 26 to Aug 22.
It involved a RM200 e-cash credit payout to youths aged 18 to 20 or full-time students at higher education institutions (IPT). It was aimed at fostering a cashless payment culture and alleviating the financial burden of youths.
Anwar was responding to a question by a member of the Universiti Malaysia Pahang Al-Sultan Abdullah student representative council on the eBelia Rahmah initiative.
He said the government would also improve basic facilities at public universities. This included toilets and ensuring 5G telecommunication network coverage in dormitories.
Responding to students’ grouses that the Menu Siswa Rahmah initiative, which offers meals at RM3.50, was not being implemented at several universities, Anwar instructed higher education minister Khaled Nordin to pursue the matter with all universities.
Emphasis on TVET and AI
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), as well as artificial intelligence (AI) to meet the needs of the industry and investors such as Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk.
“So, we must have a comprehensive revamp of the education programme. I’ve spoken to Fadhlina Sidek (education minister) and the 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 and 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, investments and energy transition, which require the involvement of young people.
“Don’t be dragged into discussing outdated, damaging issues that create hatred among us. Aren’t there other issues (to discuss)?” 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.
The dialogue session also saw the participation of both deputy prime ministers, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Fadillah Yusof.