LABUAN – There was a sigh of relief at the Labuan Matriculation College (or KML) Wednesday afternoon as word filtered in that the October allowances of RM250 per student would be paid out.
And, what should have been thought of earlier and implemented before the situation worsened, food coupons were finally handed out to the students most affected and in need.
A KML source said the warrant for payment of the allowances for October was received, and some students were already given the desperately-needed allowances which was meant to pay for their food.
As usual, KML management were refusing to entertain calls from the media, but the source said after Wednesday, no student should be complaining of “not having food to eat”.
The Education Ministry, in a statement released in Kuala Lumpur Wednesday afternoon, said it will start paying the allowances of 21,000 students from 15 matriculation colleges by Oct 18.
Labuan, given the dire situation a good number of its students were in, received their October allowances.
Labuan Member of Parliament Datuk Rozman Isli was reported as saying the KML students’ would receive allowances over the next few days following some “technical issues.”
He said he had spoken to Education Minister Datuk Mahdzir Khalid who had assured him that the allowances would be paid by this week.
“Mahdzir told me he was aware of the predicament some of the KML students were going through, especially those from low income families,” Rozman was quoted as saying.
Things started moving after BorneoToday highlighted the issue and it is understood that deputy Education Minister, Datuk Mary Yap, who is from Sabah, was contacted to help intervene.
It is understood that Yap then contacted Education Ministry director-general who then managed to expedite preparations of the warrant so that the allowances could be disbursed to the KML students without further delay.
Things got to a head when some 100 students started getting food pack from a volunteer group, believed to be the Blessed Sacrament Church Labuan Agape team, but this kindness did not go down kindly with the KML management.
A Labuan parent said he was amused with the way the KML management went about denying that a ‘mini crisis’ existed among especially the poorer students who were forced to share a packet of instant noodles or eat rice with just gravy.
“There would be no smoke without fire,” he pointed out saying that the KML management could have handled the situation much more professionally instead of letting it to fester, and eventually become the subject matter of social media.
He said since the allowances was suspended (which meant it would eventually be given out) the KML management could have worked out an arrangement with the canteen operator to provide food to the students on credit.
Meanwhile, Rozman said a team from his MP’s office helped to provide aid to the affected students.
On Wednesday BorneoToday reported that KML students for the 2016/2017 intake had only received the RM250 allowance for June and July.
A survey at KML Wednesday evening indicated no food was being distributed to the students by any group.
The question on the upperminds of most is when will these students, mainly from not-so-well off families in Sabah and Sarawak’s interior, would receive their August and September allowance.
The Ministry of Education has since said the delay was unavoidable due to an exercise to realign the ministry’s balance sheet to optimise its spending.
“The ministry is committed and is working to ensure that the pocket money allowances will be paid to students no later than Oct 18 via each student’s bank account,” said the ministry.