KUALA LUMPUR, August 22 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has stated that the government has never neglected the welfare of the M40 group. He said that claims by some parties that the government’s approach is more focused on the B40 group to the extent of neglecting the middle-income group are not accurate. “So, we have taken some steps, but the assumption that we are giving more to the B40 is not accurate. For example, if you look at all the science secondary schools or MRSM (Malaysian Lower Science College), including Malay Colleges and others, the benefit to the poorest is very small, not even one or two percent.”

“That’s why I suggested to the Minister of Education recently, whether special schools are proposed or not, one to five percent must be allocated only for the really poor. Otherwise, the gap will continue,” he said. Anwar made these remarks while speaking at the iTEKAD Cooperation Networking Session here today, which was also attended by Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan and Bank Negara Governor Datuk Shaik Abdul Rasheed Abdul Ghaffour.

Meanwhile, addressing meritocracy in education, the Prime Minister said that the system is important but should not be the sole criterion for ensuring fair governance and administration of the country. “If we want to talk about meritocracy between the best schools in Kuala Lumpur and schools in Kapit, Sarawak, it means proposing a formula that does not emphasize justice. “One side talks about meritocracy, and one side talks only about quotas (Bumiputera)… I think both must be combined, so there must also be meritocracy, otherwise, we will not elevate the best among us,” he said.

Therefore, Anwar urged the leadership of the ministry, banks, and the elite to approach the lower-income groups who have different thoughts and concerns on this matter. “Sometimes I am worried too. We have been independent for so long and mature, but sometimes our discourse has two sides and there is a separation among the leaders and the lower ranks. “Because they (the lower-income group) are marginalized and neglected, they will turn to narrow racial and religious issues because we (the upper-income group) do not take care of them,” he said.

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