Tertiary students eating one meal a day: “Was Menu Siswa Rahmah withdrawn?” MCA asks

AN MCA leader has questioned if the Higher Education Ministry (MOHE) had discreetly withdrawn the Menu Siswa Rahmah which it had introduced in March this year at 20 public universities, 24 polytechnics and eight community colleges.

MCA spokesperson Saw Yee Fung raised this question in response to a recent Sin Chew report, where an alumnus had revealed on social media after returning to the campus cafeteria that the mixed rice he had ordered, which comprised a plate of white rice, a piece of chicken, an egg, and a cup of iced milk tea, had costed him RM9.

Expressing surprise on social media, he revealed some students who cannot afford such staggering prices are skipping their meals and are only consuming one meal a day which combines breakfast and lunch.

Saw Yee Fung (Pic credit: Utusan Malaysia)

“MOHE needs to ensure integrity in the implementation of the Menu Siswa Rahmah instead of merely occupying media space and promoting the said menu as a solution to the problem,” Saw said in a statement today (Oct 17).

“Tertiary students struggling to afford meals is nothing new. Why is the government still slow in taking responsive measures?”

Saw said a balanced and healthy diet is essential for the future leaders of the nation, and especially for growing teenagers, eating one meal a day should not even crop up in Malaysian institutes of higher learning.

In addition to the B40 group, she said the government cannot turn a blind eye to the pressures that inflation brings to students from all walks of life.

“Students from rural areas who move to the city for their studies will discover that urban living expenses do not commensurate the income of their parents in their hometowns. Hence, the financial burden for students from low-income households is heavier,” she stated.

“Moreover, after the government enforces the transition to targeted subsidies, the inflationary effects will make daily living even more difficult for tertiary students to shoulder.”

Saw stressed that MOHE should enhance the implementation of the Menu Siswa Rahmah to ensure that students have access to affordable and healthy meals.

She said regular spot-checks are also necessary to ensure that cafeterias in higher institutes of learning have sufficient affordable menus for students to choose from.

Saw suggested that in addition to absorbing the vendors’ rents, the government could provide them with basic food subsidies so that they can, in turn, pass the savings to students via affordable dishes.

“The government could also emulate tertiary institutes overseas whereby student cards are used to purchase meals. This method controls and ensures that food subsidies or discounts will benefit genuine students,” she noted.

“Also, higher learning institutes could set up a complaints platform whereby students may promptly lodge reports to the authorities regarding unreasonable prices of cafeteria food.” – Oct 17, 2023


Main pic credit: UTHM Pagoh

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