Sarawak Foundation or more popularly known as Yayasan Sarawak among the rural communities, canbe considered as the pillar in the struggle for higher education for all the people, the Bumiputras inparticular, who have a very late start in the field.
The people in Sarawak look up to Yayasan Sarawak for scholarships and financial assistance to pursueeducation in schools, colleges, universities or institutions of higher learning within Malaysia or abroadon such terms and conditions as it deems fit or proper.
Besides, Yayasan Sarawak also provides assistance by way of loans, grants or otherwise, toorganisations or institutions, which are organised and governed for scientific, medical, educational,welfare, social or charitable purposes.
OnJuly 12, 2017, the State Government approved a proposal by Yayasan Sarawak to introduce ascholarship scheme to be named Biasiswa Yayasan Sarawak Tun Taib in recognition of the role beingplayed by Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, who served as the Chief Minister of Sarawak fromMarch 26, 1981 to February 28, 2014 in promoting higher Education in Sarawak. Among his notablecontributions were the setting up of Curtin University, Swinburne University, Kolej Laila Taib, UniversityCollege Technology Sibu and others.
The Biasiswa Yayasan Sarawak Tun Taib combines Biasiswa Bestari, which was introduced in 2010 andBiasiswa Cemerlang, which was introduced in 2016 to provide scholarships to students, who haveexcelled in their studies. The new scholarship program also provides scholarships to graduates to dopost graduate studies namely to carry out research in any chosen fields of studies as required by theState Government.
The Yang di Pertua Negeri, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, in his speech during the ceremonyheld at the Astana, to hand over scholarships under Biasiswa Yayasan Sarawak Tun Taib to the firstgroup of 101 recipients, said he was very pleased with the support and co-operation of all communitiesand the institutions of higher learning in encouraging Bumiputras to pursue good education in order toachieve the same level with other communities in the field.
He said the understanding and support of all communities must not only be preserved but broadenedas education is no longer the issue that can trigger ways to differentiate, for example, betweenBumiputras and non Bumiputras.
He observes that the people do not talk of helping Bumiputras to go up in education as a big issue anymore with a good realisation among the community that all races must be given opportunities to moveup the ladder of success in education.
He said the young people, regardless of their racial origins, locations or whether they belong toBumiputra or non Bumiputra groups must be assisted to attain a certain level of success in educationthat can enable them to earn good income and raise their standard of living.
He said the policy to assist young Bumiputras to pursue good education is actually to ensure that theywill not be left behind and unable to achieve the same level of success with the non Bumiputras, whohave been having a long history of pursuing good education. Tun Abdul Taib called for continuousefforts to be made in a struggle to pursue good education through a system, which should be readjustedevery now and then to new approaches to attain equal level of success by all races in theState.
He said the government through Yayasan Sarawak has been able to take appropriate steps not only tobe successful but to get the interests, understanding and support from all races regardless of whetherthey are Bumiputras or non Bumiputras. It has already become an integral part of policies in Sarawak.It must remain a continuous effort to promote support and co-operation among all races in the State.
Tun Abdul Taib said the history of Yayasan Sarawak cannot be separated from efforts of past leadersin Perikatan in the 60s in encouraging Bumiputras to pursue higher education up to the level ofuniversity together with other groups.
He can still remember in the earlier days when Bumiputras were left far behind the non Bumiputras ineducation due to their late history of involvement in it. Now, it can be said that Bumiputras havealready achieved a good level of success in education and get good support and encouragement fromother communities.
More importantly, all races, who supported the Barisan Nasional led government , played active rolesin supporting efforts to encourage and assist Bumiputras, who had been left far behind, to pursuegood education.
Tun Abdul Taib mentioned in particular the history of involvement of Apai Tun Jugah (Tun DatukPatinggi Jugah anak Barieng, the former Federal Minister of Sarawak Affairs) in promoting goodeducation among the Bumiputras.
He said Apai Tun Jugah, as he was popularly known, emphasised every time he met Tun AbdulRahman (Tun Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul Rahman Yakub, a former Chief Minister and Governor ofSarawak) and other leaders of Perikatan at that time, the need to ensure that Bumiputra childrenwould not be left behind in education.
Now all the people including the non Bumiputras supported the program, which is being carried outvery well due to their goodwill towards it. Obviously, the educational programs being carried byYayasan Sarawak are smooth and very efficient.
Tun Abdul Taib said the late Datuk Patinggi Haji Adenan Satem, the fifth Chief Minister of Sarawak andformer Chairman of Yayasan Sarawak, played key roles in ensuring that the programs being carried outby Yayasan Sarawak would produce many young Bumiputras from the institutions of higher learningboth inside and outside the country.
Hence, Yayasan Sarawak could be considered as the foundation in the struggle for higher education forall people, the Bumiputras in particular, who must be given the necessary support and assistance untilnew and better programs can be introduced in future.
Generally, the people must be given opportunities to take more steps that can lead to greater progressand advancement. In this regards, the Bumiputras including those living far away from urban areasmust be given opportunities to have similarities with the non Bumiputras. Obviously, the struggle tobring about greater similarities, even though it is no longer serious as before, must be continued.
For example, an event to give assistance to deserving young people to pursue higher education, whichwill create greater awareness of similarities in progress in the field of education among young peopleof Sarawak, can be celebrated with greater satisfaction and happiness .
Tun Abdul Taib suggested that Yayasan Sarawak should continue to study other forms of assistancethat could be given to smaller ethnic groups like the Penans before. Besides, the Penans, even thoughthey have already got assistance and support from this program, their progress should not beoverlooked. They are still living far away from urban areas, far away from institutions of higherlearning and far away from the services of various government departments.
He called on all relevant agencies to keep an open eye on all small groups of people , who should behelped so that one day they would realise that the unity of races in Sarawak does not calculate thestrength of each of them based on numbers. It is the view of the Government that every opportunitymust be given to bring people to a higher level of progress regardless of racial origins.
He said, although the system of having reservations or quotas among the races still exists, the systemis no longer controversial. Actually, the system serves as a very effective way of making the peopleaware that nobody is going to be left out in any of efforts to improve the lots of any race, particularlythose who are smaller in numbers like the Penans.
Hopefully, the State can continue to do this not just in pursuit of equality but more in trying to give arealisation that it is a pleasure to help people, who have the tendency or the possibility of being leftbehind.
Tun Abdul Taib believes, though Sarawak has been doing very well in the field of education, theprogram must continue to be developed in terms of ways and methods by all Chief Ministers. The firstone in the 60s was a bit difficult but today it is part of the way of thinking of leaders to give equalopportunities to every race.
Tun Abdul Taib was happy to note that people, who had served Yayasan Sarawak, which plays vitalroles in providing support and assistance to deserving students to pursue higher education, had puttheir whole heart in making sure that young people would not be left out in participating in highereducation program in Sarawak.
For example, Datu Haji Muhamad Abu Bakar bin Marzuki, a former Director of Yayasan Sarawak andnow the Director of State Planning Unit (SPU) in the Chief Ministers department, had madeconscientious efforts to ensure that every race should have good opportunities to come up.
Tun Abdul Taib observes that politics in Sarawak is exceptionally stable and cannot be found elsewherein Malaysia. It is harmonious; it is almost automatically very considerate of problems of any particularrace. Sarawak can be said to be moving forward to become a very progressive and harmonious statein the country.
He said for all the differences that the people have in terms of racial origins or religious beliefs ordifferent backgrounds, they can maintain equality and progress to become a feature that makes everySarawakian very proud.
Tun Abdul Taib says he feels very proud as a Sarawakian when he thinks how much the people havebeen able to contribute towards this sense of equality and fair treatment in Sarawak. Hopefully, thissense of equality and fair treatment will remain the way of life of the people in perpetuity.
He, wholeheartedly congratulates Yayasan Sarawak, its one time long serving leader, the late DatukPatinggi Adenan Satem in particular, whose services tend to be taken for granted by people, for havinggiven a lot of dedication and making selfless efforts in discharging its duties and responsibilities
May the progress that has been achieved reflect the dedication of leaders particularly those who are nolonger around, in the services of the people, state and country. In this regards, their examples shouldserve as encouragement to the races to devote their time to help further progress of Bumiputras in thefield of education, in harmony with the progress of non Bumiputras in this country.
It is in this spirit that he performs his duty to give away the scholarships to the first group of recipientsof BiasiswaYayasan Sarawak Tun Taib. He is doing the duty that gives him a lot of pleasure and thefeeling of pride as a Sarawakian; any Sarawakian doing the same job would share the feeling of pridein their own state.
The primary objectives of Biasiswa Yayasan Sarawak Tun Taib are:
*To show gratitude to His Excellency Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud for his efforts inpromoting higher education like the setting up of institutions of higher learning namely, CurtinUniversity, Swinburne University, Kolej Laila Taib and others;
*To provide scholarships to students, who have excelled in their studies to get their degree and pursuepost graduate studies up to Phd;
*To ensure that the sponsored students will be able to serve in the public sector based on therequirements of the State Government; and
*To provide scholarships to graduates to carry out research in their specific fields of studies asrequired by the State government.
The New Sarawak Tribune