KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — Reports of university students struggling to afford food are possibly sensationalised and not reflective of their general state of finances, said Khairy Jamaluddin today.
The youth and sports minister said that while some cases of students living in poverty may be genuine, more investigation was necessary to determine if the issue was as prevalent as portrayed in the media.
“We need to filter the news reports on this issue if it is legit or not.
“I’m not saying all students live easy and no one suffers, but I don’t think there is any student that is starving,” he told reporters after chairing the Umno Youth meeting today.
He added that the Education Ministry would have detected the existence of such cases as it maintains programmes for underprivileged students.
Khairy compared the issue to the homeless in the country, saying that even the homeless were taken care off by various bodies including the Umno Youth.
“If this case was true why hasn’t the students told the lecturer or the head of their universities?
“I’m sure there are no students who are starving when even they are given free food by the KL Pemuda (Umno Youth),” he explained.
Last Friday, Malay daily Harian Metro reported a psychology major at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) was hospitalised after her intestines were found to have ruptured due to poor eating habits, which she attributed to financial problems that left her just RM30 a week to spend on food and other necessities.
Since then, other students have emerged with similar complaints, relating how they had to stretch limited fuinds due to increasing living costs.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh yesterday assured that Putrajaya would look into the problem that seems to be faced by public university students in the country.
He also encouraged students to take up part time jobs at their universities to support their cost of living.
Student groups today rejected Idris’ suggestion, saying that obtaining off-campus work was financially prohibitive and more likely to worsen students’ finances than improve them.