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Jeffrey Cheah Foundation

Scholarships And Awards Ceremony



Opening Remarks

Sunway University, Petaling Jaya
Wednesday, November 13, 2019


Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah

Founder & Trustee of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation

Members of the Board of Trustees of JCF,

Scholarship recipients,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good afternoon and Salam Harapan,


1. Thank you for inviting me to the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation Scholarships and Awards Ceremony 2019. I am pleased to be here with all of the parents, teachers and students to celebrate a day of opportunities for young Malaysians. This is what the new Malaysia is all about, giving opportunities to all to realize your fullest potential.

2. As mentioned by Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, the RM80 million to be awarded today is the highest amount disbursed by the Foundation in any single year. It will bring the total amount handed out by the Foundation to more than RM400 million since its establishment in 2007.

3. Awards like this provided by the private sector augments the function of the public sector in education in contributing to nation building. In current context, it assists the Government in achieving our goal of ensuring Shared Prosperity for all Malaysians.

4. For this reason, the Government has decided to increase the disclosure requirement threshold from RM5,000 to RM10,000 starting from 5 September 2019. To further encourage the private sector to donate towards noble causes, the reporting threshold will be raised further to RM20,000 beginning next year.

5. Additionally, as announced in Budget 2020, the current 7% tax deduction from aggregate income other than company for donation towards charitable and sport activities, as well as projects of national interests will be increased to 10% of aggregate income.


6. The Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 is the Government’s overarching policy of generating sustainable economic growth while addressing income inequality among Malaysians. I believe the best way for Malaysia to reduce income inequality among us effectively is through an equitable outcome relying on a combination of equal opportunities,

7. Education and human capital are drivers of economic growth. A World Bank paper studying the experience of 139 countries suggests that an additional year of education would increase a person’s income by 9%.

8. But education does not bring private benefits only. Society too would gain from having an educated population. Social returns to an additional year of education is above 10%, which is higher than the private returns.

9. Indeed, education is key to the creation of a large middle class, which in turn is essential in sustaining a healthy democratic society. An educated and vibrant middle class forms an effective check-andbalance against power abuses either in the private sector or in the Government.

10. This Government itself would not have been here today without the support of the middle class and other groups who were concerned with the direction Malaysia was taking before, as well as the damage inflicted on our institutions that had suffered huge losses through serial corruption, financial wrongdoings and abuse of power.


11. This is why the Government is investing in Malaysians by allocating RM64.1 billion to the Ministry of Education in Budget 2020 to upgrade schools, build new facilities, mainstreaming Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and for professional certification programmes. This is a 6.4% increase from the 2019 allocation demonstrating the Government’s commitment towards education.


12. We have managed to increase allocation for education, health and many others through competent management of public finance. For 2020, the Government is spending RM297 billion excluding contingent savings of RM2 billion. The RM297 billion expenditure is 7% higher than what was allocated for 2019, notwithstanding the oneoff RM37 billion GST and income tax refunds returned by the Government to its rightful owners.

13. This Government is carrying out various institutional reforms to make the public sector more competent, accountable and transparent. These reforms will help us allocate more money into productive sectors in the future.

14. For example, we have implemented open tender system within the Government. This has made government procurement more transparent and efficient. Furthermore, we are in the midst of shifting from cash-basis accounting to accrual accounting, which will be completed by 2021 and provides all stakeholders with a comprehensive and transparent oversight over public finance. For those who are not familiar with the concept, accrual basis is an accounting standard where transactions are recorded immediately when they happen, and not when cash is exchanged.

15. Our institutional reforms have brought encouraging results. Recently in October 2019, the World Bank released its latest Worldwide Governance Index (WGI), which places Malaysia as among the best improved countries out of 214 economies. The WGI measures institutional quality of a country and among factors measured are adherence to the rule of law and fighting corruption.


16. But no matter how big the Government’s budget is, our efforts alone are not sufficient to establish an entrepreneurial economy. We need the involvement of the private sector through a 4P partnership, which involves close collaborations between the public sector, the private sector, professionals and the people. Help us prepare the future for our young as we prepare the young for the future.

17. The setting up of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation exemplifies how the private sector can help Malaysia achieve our shared vision through collaboration. I understand that JCF has robust global partnerships with top universities of the world, which will contribute towards the raising of standards of excellence in Malaysia.

18. Such collaboration in education will help deliver skilled talent we need to bring our country to the next level.

19. Having said that, the Government also appreciates the offering of scholarships. The Government also gives out scholarships and many of them are for overseas study. Unfortunately, this is not within our means currently , but scholarships are being offered for study locally. Those who wish to study overseas, we have to wait until our national situation becomes better. But with better local higher institutions of learning, whether private or public, I believe we can get quality education, and you will be valued by the market and the industry when you graduate.

20. Education allows upward social mobility. That’s why it is important when we talk about education, we should be relentless and unrelenting in our pursuit of excellence. We must also ensure that the poor and less unfortunate are not left out. One of the first measures taken by this Government is to ensure that the B40 are given equal opportunity to learn. Under the criteria set up by the Government, the B40 compete equally, there is no racial discrimination. As long as you are within the B40, you are entitled to compete equally with others, as evident in the offering of matriculation places where the B40 and everyone can gain a place equally, based on their results.


21. In closing, I applaud the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation for its contributions in advancing education opportunities for Malaysians. Whilst we talk about education and getting good results, remember that education is also about character-building. Most important of all is to be true to your dreams, and integrity above all. Keep on to your dreams, hold on to your principles, then you can reach for the stars.

22. And my heartiest congratulations to all award recipients, and to your teachers and parents who played a major part in getting you here today. I hope you will fully utilise the opportunities that have been given to you, and return the favour to those who have helped you along the way by building a better Malaysia for all of us.

Thank you.