MCA howler over RM30 million donation

By Koon Yew Yin

Press Statement

I want to know why the MCA rejected my RM30 million student-aid offer

I called a press conference to refute the statement made by Ipoh MCA politician Thong Fah Chong as published a few days ago. He said that I wanted a seat on the Utar (Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman) council and because of that the university cannot accept my RM30 million donation to build hostels within its campus in Kampar, Perak.

I have never wanted a seat on the Utar council and what Thong said is not true.

The Ipoh Echo and the Centre for Policy Initiatives carry an advertisement of my offer of scholarships to help poor students whose family income is less than RM2,000 per month. In the last three and half years, I have given scholarships to about 70 really poor students and most of them are studying in Utar Kampar.

Scholarship recipients do not need to pay me back the money I give to them nor do they need to work for me. They only have to promise me that when they are financially solvent, they will help other poor students. In this way, I believe many who have benefitted from my charity will continue to do charity after I die.

Before the end of the year, my first scholarship holder will be graduating as an accountant. This student had 10A1 for his SPM but failed to get a scholarship from anywhere. Moreover, his father died soon after he completed his SPM. He is one of many thousands of bright but poor students who do not have the resources to further their education.

There are currently 12,500 students in Utar and 2,100 students in TAR College. The student population is increasing by 2,000 a year and is expected to hit well above the 20,000 mark soon.

As reported, the Perak state government has allocated 520ha of land and Utar has utilized less than 100ha for current development.

After receiving confirmation that Utar has no plan to build hostels, on 19 August last year, I offered a RM30 million donation to Utar to build hostels with all the net profit to go towards building more hostels. I have openly declared that my intention is to help the students and I do not want any part of the profit for myself.

The following is my original donation offer written on 18 August 2009:

Proposed hostel development within Utar campus, Kampar

I wish to donate RM30 million to Utar for a hostel development within the Utar campus on the following conditions:

(1) I solemnly declare that all the benefits derived from this hostel development is only for Utar in Kampar and not for my personal gain.

(2) A foundation to be set up under the control of a board of directors with me as chairman and four directors to be appointed by Utar council with my approval.

(3) The main object is to provide suitable accommodation with recreational facilities for Utar students within the campus.

(1) The rental rate must be sustainable and competitive. The return from the investment must be able to generate a profit of at least one million ringgit a year for scholarships to help poor students and additional funds for maintenance and new development.

Advantages of hostel and recreational facilities within the campus:

(1) To help students, especially new ones, to solve their immediate accommodation problem.

(2) Hostel environment is more conducive for learning and the development of human relationships.

(3) Currently the 9,500 Utar students are scattered all over Kampar and the university has practically no control over them after lectures. They are free to drink and gamble as much as they like. Moreover, they have the constant worry of their landlords kicking them out or they have to find new accommodation before the start of the next semester. Can you imagine living with this constant fear while you are burdened with lectures, examinations and financial difficulties? This situation cannot continue if the Utar council has a good alternative.

(4) University students are always burdened with a lot of difficulties and some students will develop irreversible psychological problem. Studies have shown that living in hostel have many advantages including the reduction of dropouts.

(5) Living in university hostel is the most pleasurable period of a student’s life. The hostel facilities will generate happiness and comradeship among fellow students. As a result, students are better prepared to face the competitive world after their graduation.

After having waited more than six months for Utar’s acceptance of my donation, on 1 March 2010 , I met Lau Yin Pin, chairman of Utar board of trustees and Prof Chuah Hean Teik, president/CEO of Utar council, in Kampar and I gave them in writing my final donation offer as follows:

Final donation offer letter to Utar made on 1 March 2010

Koon Yew Yin’s objectives and conditions for his RM30 million donation:

KYY’s mission is to help Utar students, especially the poor students in their access to university residential accommodation and scholarships.

(1) All the RM30 million donation and the profit from the rental and other income must be used for building hostels and other associated residential buildings for the use of students within the campus of Utar, Kampar.

(2) All construction contracts exceeding RM10,000 must be open to competitive tenders.

(3) The task force is to be composed of 7 members, 4 members to be nominated by Utar and 3 members to be nominated by myself or by my nominee.

(4) I will be appointed by Utar as adviser to the task force. The role of adviser must be spelt out and agreeable to me. This position will be a lifelong one. Any change to be made to the position has to be sanctioned by me or by the executors of my estate.

(5) Utar will utilize a team of people to manage the hostel on a commercial basis. The rental rate must be competitive and profitable but at the same time it should not burden the students.

(6) Koon Yew Yin and his estate reserve the right to authorise Utar to use a portion of the net income to create a Koon Yew Yin Charity Foundation to help poor students by offering scholarships or loans to Utar and other needy students.

(7) In honour of his donation, Koon Yew Yin wishes to have a tablet prominently displayed with these words inscribed: