Yayasan Sarawak as the pillar in struggle for higher education

Sarawak Foundation or more popularly known as Yayasan Sarawak among the rural communities, can be considered as the pillar in the struggle for higher education for all the people, the Bumiputras in particular, who have a very late start in the field.

The people in Sarawak look up to Yayasan Sarawak for scholarships and financial assistance to pursue education in schools, colleges, universities or institutions of higher learning within Malaysia or abroad on such terms and conditions as it deems fit or proper.

Besides, Yayasan Sarawak also provides assistance by way of loans, grants or otherwise, to organisations or institutions, which are organised and governed for scientific, medical, educational, welfare, social or charitable purposes.

OnJuly 12, 2017, the State Government approved a proposal by Yayasan Sarawak to introduce a scholarship scheme to be named Biasiswa Yayasan Sarawak Tun Taib in recognition of the role being played by Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, who served as the Chief Minister of Sarawak from March 26, 1981 to February 28, 2014 in promoting higher Education in Sarawak. Among his notable contributions were the setting up of Curtin University, Swinburne University, Kolej Laila Taib, University College Technology Sibu and others.

The Biasiswa Yayasan Sarawak Tun Taib combines Biasiswa Bestari, which was introduced in 2010 and Biasiswa Cemerlang, which was introduced in 2016 to provide scholarships to students, who have excelled in their studies.  The new scholarship program also provides scholarships to graduates to do post graduate studies namely to carry out research in any chosen fields of studies as required by the State Government.

The Yang di Pertua Negeri, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, in his speech during the ceremony held at the Astana, to hand over scholarships under Biasiswa Yayasan Sarawak Tun Taib to the first group of 101 recipients, said he was very pleased with the support and co-operation of all communities and the institutions of higher learning in encouraging Bumiputras to pursue good education in order to achieve the same level with other communities in the field.

He said the understanding and support of all communities must not only be preserved but broadened as education is no longer the issue that can trigger ways to differentiate, for example, between Bumiputras and non Bumiputras.

He observes that the people do not talk of helping Bumiputras to go up in education as a big issue any more with a good realisation among the community that all races must be given opportunities to move up  the ladder of success in education.

He said the young people, regardless of their racial origins, locations or whether they belong to Bumiputra or non Bumiputra groups must be assisted to attain a certain level of success in education that can enable them to earn good income and raise their standard of living.

He said the policy to assist young Bumiputras to pursue good education is actually to ensure that they will not be left behind and unable to achieve the same level of success with the non Bumiputras, who have been having a long history of pursuing good education.  Tun Abdul Taib called for continuous efforts to be made in a struggle to pursue good education through a system, which should be re-adjusted  every now and then to new approaches to attain equal level of success by all races in the State.   

He said the government through Yayasan Sarawak has been able to take appropriate steps not only to be successful but to get the interests, understanding and support from all races regardless of whether they are Bumiputras or non Bumiputras. It has already become an integral part of policies in Sarawak. It must remain a continuous effort to promote support and co-operation among all races in the State. 

Tun Abdul Taib said the history of Yayasan Sarawak cannot be separated from efforts of past leaders in Perikatan in the 60s in encouraging Bumiputras to pursue higher education up to the level of university together with other groups. 

He can still remember in the earlier days when Bumiputras were left far behind the non Bumiputras in education due to their late history of involvement in it. Now, it can be said that Bumiputras have already achieved a good level of success in education and get good support and encouragement from other communities. 

More importantly, all races, who supported the Barisan Nasional – led government , played active roles in supporting efforts to encourage and assist Bumiputras, who had been left far behind, to pursue good education.

Tun Abdul Taib mentioned in particular the history of involvement of Apai Tun Jugah (Tun Datuk Patinggi Jugah anak Barieng, the former Federal Minister of Sarawak Affairs) in promoting good education among the Bumiputras.

He said Apai Tun Jugah, as he was popularly known, emphasised every time he met Tun Abdul Rahman (Tun Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul Rahman Ya’kub, a former Chief Minister and Governor of Sarawak) and other leaders of Perikatan at that time, the need to ensure that Bumiputra children would not be left behind in education.

Now all the people including the non – Bumiputras supported the program, which is being carried out very well due to their goodwill towards it. Obviously, the educational programs being carried by Yayasan Sarawak are smooth and very efficient.    

Tun Abdul Taib said the late Datuk Patinggi Haji Adenan Satem, the fifth Chief Minister of Sarawak and former Chairman of Yayasan Sarawak, played key roles in ensuring that the programs being carried out by Yayasan Sarawak would produce many young Bumiputras from the institutions of higher learning both inside and outside the country. 

Hence, Yayasan Sarawak could be considered as the foundation in the struggle for higher education for all people, the Bumiputras in particular, who must be given the necessary support and assistance until new and better programs can be introduced in future. 

Generally, the people must be given opportunities to take more steps that can lead to greater progress and advancement. In this regards, the Bumiputras including those living far away from urban areas must be given opportunities to have similarities with the non Bumiputras. Obviously, the struggle to bring about greater similarities, even though it is no longer serious as before, must be continued. 

For example, an event to give assistance to deserving young people to pursue higher education, which will create greater awareness of similarities in progress in the field of education among young people of Sarawak, can be celebrated with greater satisfaction and happiness . 

Tun Abdul Taib suggested that Yayasan Sarawak should continue to study other forms of assistance that could be given to smaller ethnic groups like the Penans before.  Besides, the Penans, even though they have already got assistance and support from this program, their progress should not be overlooked.  They are still living far away from urban areas, far away from institutions of higher learning and far away from the services of various government departments.

He called on all relevant agencies to keep an open eye on all small  groups of people , who should be helped so that one day they would realise that the unity of races in Sarawak does not calculate the strength  of each of them based on numbers.  It is the view of the Government that every opportunity must be given to bring people to a higher level of progress regardless of racial origins.

He said, although the system of having reservations or quotas among the races still exists, the system is no longer controversial. Actually, the system serves as a very effective way of making the people aware that nobody is going to be left out in any of efforts to improve the lots of any race, particularly those who are smaller in numbers like the Penans.

Hopefully,  the State can continue to do this not just in pursuit of equality  but more in trying to give a realisation  that it is a pleasure  to help  people, who have the tendency  or the possibility of being left behind.

Tun Abdul Taib believes, though Sarawak has been doing very well in the field of education, the program must continue to be developed in terms of ways and methods by all Chief Ministers. The first one in the 60s was a bit difficult but today it is part of the way of thinking of leaders to give equal opportunities to every race.

Tun Abdul Taib was happy to note that people, who had served Yayasan Sarawak, which plays vital roles in providing support and assistance to deserving students to pursue higher education, had put their whole heart in making sure that young people would not be left out in participating in higher education program in Sarawak.

For example, Datu Haji Muhamad Abu Bakar bin Marzuki, a former Director of Yayasan Sarawak and now the Director of State Planning Unit (SPU) in the Chief Minister’s department, had made conscientious efforts to ensure that every race should have good opportunities to come up.

Tun Abdul Taib observes that politics in Sarawak is exceptionally stable and cannot be found elsewhere in Malaysia.   It is harmonious; it is almost automatically very considerate of problems of any particular race.  Sarawak can be said to be moving forward to become a very progressive and harmonious state in the country.

He said for all the differences that the people have in terms of racial origins or religious beliefs or different backgrounds, they can maintain equality and progress to become a feature that makes every Sarawakian very proud.

Tun Abdul Taib says he feels very proud as a Sarawakian when he thinks how much the people have been able to contribute towards this sense of equality and fair treatment in Sarawak.  Hopefully, this sense of equality and fair treatment will remain the way of life of the people in perpetuity.

  He, wholeheartedly congratulates Yayasan Sarawak, its one time long – serving leader, the late Datuk Patinggi Adenan Satem in particular, whose services tend to be taken for granted by people, for having given a lot of dedication and making selfless efforts in discharging its duties and responsibilities

May the progress that has been achieved reflect the dedication of leaders particularly those who are no longer around, in the services of the people, state and country.  In this regards, their examples should serve as encouragement to the races to devote their time to help further progress of Bumiputras in the field of education, in harmony with the progress  of non Bumiputras in this country.

It is in this spirit that he performs his duty to give away the scholarships to the first group of recipients of BiasiswaYayasan Sarawak Tun Taib. He is doing the duty that gives him a lot of pleasure and the feeling of pride as a Sarawakian; any Sarawakian doing the same job would share the feeling of pride in their own state.

The primary objectives of Biasiswa Yayasan Sarawak Tun Taib are:

*To show gratitude to His Excellency Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud for his efforts  in promoting higher education like the setting up of institutions of higher learning namely, Curtin University, Swinburne University, Kolej Laila Taib and others;

*To provide scholarships to students, who have excelled in their studies to get their degree and pursue post graduate studies up to Phd;

*To ensure that the sponsored students will be able to serve in the public sector based on the requirements of the State Government; and

*To provide scholarships to graduates to carry out research in their specific fields of studies as required by the State government.