Old project 'revived' as MCA election goody

Fauwaz Abdul Aziz | Feb 19, 08

For the third time in recent weeks, an election goody was today presented to the Chinese community by the Selangor government and Barisan Nasional component party MCA.
The boost – in the form of a RM3 million donation pledge by the Hong Leong Group – is to ensure that construction begins soon on New Era College’s Sepang campus project that had not quite taken off when launched eight years ago.
On Feb 12, it was announced that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would allocate RM10 million for Chinese schools.
Earlier, Education Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had announced his approval for 13 Chinese schools to relocate to densely-populated areas in the Klang Valley and Johor while six new Chinese schools would be built in Wangsa Maju, Sungai Long, Kajang, Bukit Serdang, Rawang and Danga Bay.
New Era College, which is currently in Kajang, was started in 1998 and is managed by the Chinese School Committees and School Teachers Associations (Dong Jiao Zong).
As far back as 2000, Vintage Heights Sdn Bhd had donated the 100-acre land in Sepang to New Era College on condition that construction of its campus was to commence by August 2007.
Vintage Heights is a subsidiary of Hong Leong and a joint-venture of GuocoLand (Malaysia) Bhd, Selangor development corporation PKNS, Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd, Crescent Capital Sdn Bhd and Cheltenham Investments Pte Ltd.
Hong Leong, in addition, had then also pledged more than RM2 million while GuocoLand and Hume Industries donated altogether RM1.163 million.
Improving quality of education
“We have been committed to this New Era project since day one,” Hong Leong Foundation director Dr Poh Soon Sim told a press conference at the MCA headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
“As far back as the year 2000, the Dong Jiao Zong … had set its wheels in motion,” he added.
Despite the collection to date of RM5.4 million – which include donations from the public – to fund the construction of the Sepang campus, the wheels ground to a halt as the anticipated project did not take off as planned last August.
New Era College “was in danger of losing this land grant of 100 acres”, said Poh.
Reviving the project today, he said, Hong Leong together with MCA pledge to raise RM3 million in additional funds for New Era College as part of efforts to making it a success and “improving the quality of education in the country.”
Thanking Hong Leong and Vintage Heights for the donations, Dong Jiao Zong Higher Learning Centre and New Era College chairperson Dr Yap Sin Tian said their actions and example “should be followed by us all.”
Also at the press conference were Selangor Menteri Besar and state Umno chief Dr Mohd Khir Toyo – whose visit to the MCA building was his first and the second this month for top Umno leaders.
MCA president Ong Ka Ting, his deputy Chan Kong Choy and other top guns in the party as well as Hong Leong chairperson Quek Leng Chan were also present.
“MCA being a party in the Barisan Nasional, we have been working hard for education in the context of multiracial Malaysian society and we welcome all parties who can contribute to human capital in Malaysia,” said Ong.
Signing a memorandum of understanding on the 100-acre land donation were Mohd Khir and the respective heads of Vintage Heights, GuocoLand, PKNS and New Era College.
Selangor candidates list submitted
On a separate matter, Mohd Khir later told reporters that the list of Selangor Umno candidates for the general election had been submitted several days ago to party president Abdullah.
“For some of the seats, several names were proposed,” he said when met at the lobby of the Wisma MCA building.
He also said about 60 percent of the people surveyed had indicated that they would vote based on who the contesting candidates were.
“It will be difficult this time around,” he said, adding that people were reserved on how they were going to vote on polling day.
He said further, however, that “the people still support BN” while MIC has been tasked to look into the issue of Indians’ support for the coalition which is said to be on the wane.