As ringgit drops, Johor sultanah walks the talk and helps students abroad - The Malaysian Insider
A month or more later, to read this. As ringgit drops, Johor sultanah walks the talk and helps students abroad http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/as-ringgit-drops-johor-sultanah-walks-the-talk-and-helps-students-abroad
BY MOHD FARHAN DARWIS
Published: 1 October 2015 7:00 AM
Datuk Dr Muhammad Ridzuan Salleh, chairman of the Raja Zarith Foundation, says anyone wishing to study should not have to worry about a lack of money. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, October 1, 2015.It was a simple gesture that drew the attention of thousands of Malaysians: the sultanah of Johor herself asking the public how she could help local students struggling with the shrinking ringgit abroad.
Raja Zarith Sofiah Idris was struck by the idea of alleviating the students’ financial burden while on holiday in the United Kingdom in August.
Now, more than one month after posting her question on Facebook, the Zarith Sofiah’s Initiative for Educational Financial Assistance is providing US$500 (RM2,300) or £500 (RM3,400) to 100 Malaysian students studying in the United States and the UK.
One of the recipients is Razlan Rashid, a third-year Malaysian PhD student from University of Sussex’s School of Media, Film and Music, who lauded the initiative as an effort to help Malaysians overseas who are feeling the pinch of a declining ringgit and rising costs.
On September 21, Razlan said in a Facebook post: “Feeling blessed. It’s been a very emotional morning for me today as I was one of the selected recipients of Zarith Sofiah’s Initiative for Educational Financial Assistance. May this Foundation be blessed by The Almighty. Verily in hardship there is ease. Indeed.”
Razlan, who is from Selangor, told The Malaysian Insider he had to work as a delivery man to cope with the rising costs of education and living.
He said it was heart-warming when a member of royalty would make such a gesture to “ordinary people” like himself.
Razlan also submitted a two-minute video of himself in his application to the Raja Zarith initiative.
Datuk Dr Muhammad Ridzuan Salleh, chairman of the Raja Zarith Foundation, which is handling the initiative, said the funds were donated by private individuals and corporations. “It allows us to help Malaysian students abroad.” The foundation also plans to work with restaurants in the UK and the US to issue food stamps for Malaysian students there, he said in an exclusive interview with The Malaysian Insider.
A total of 400 Malaysian students applied for the financial aid advertised on both Raja Zarith’s and the foundation’s official Facebook pages, said Ridzuan, who was also the pro-chancellor of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).
Upon receiving the applications, Raja Zarith (pic) wrote to private and government-linked companies to raise funds for the students, he said.
“Within two weeks, we managed to raise enough money to help them,” said Ridzuan.
The foundation announced through its Facebook page that funds would be distributed in four stages, starting September 23 to December 31.
The first phase involved 10 recipients, followed by the second phase on October 31 involving 20 recipients, 30 recipients in the third phase on 31 November and the final phase on December 31 involving 40 recipients.
The foundation believed that money should not be a hindrance for those who wished to obtain higher education, said Ridzuan.
“Anyone who wants to study should not have to worry about not having enough money,” said Ridzuan.
“We also need to teach Malaysians the culture of contributing towards students’ education. Right now, Malaysians still think that the only avenue is government scholarships.
“We have to change that way of thinking. Education is too precious. This is just the beginning. 100 students is just the beginning.”
Ridzuan said the foundation, set up in 2012, had several long-term plans, including organising a conference in the US on the “adab” or manners of Muslims in Southeast Asia in April 2016.
He said the foundation would also form an alumni group made up of the beneficiaries to continue helping other students abroad. – October 1, 2015.