Kuala Lumpur: Big corporations in the country which pay business zakat (tithes from profits) were Saturday urged to channel such funds for the provision of scholarships to help Malay students.
The Congress for Malay Interests Chairman, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, in making the call, said it was in line with suggestions made by several quarters recently who wanted the money to be used for advancing the education of the Malays.
Tengku Razaleigh, who is a former Finance Minister, said there was no reason why big corporations like Petronas (the national petroleum company) could not make available the zakat it paid to help Malays in their education.
"Petronas made a staggering RM17 billion profit this year. The zakat, calculated at 2.5 per cent, is more than enough for the purpose," he told a press conference called to announce the dates of the convening the congress. It will be held on Dec 16 and 17 at the Universiti Technology Malaysia (UTM) in Jalan Semarak, here.
Tengku Razaleigh said the zakat payments by the corporations could help boost the Government's efforts in providing scholarships for Malay students.
The funds could be channelled directly to Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) which all this while had championed Malay education, he said.
"We are saddened Mara no longer can give scholarships to Malay students despite Article 153 of the Constitution guaranteeing free education for them," he said.
Tengku Razaleigh said current and long-term issues concerning education, socio-economy, culture, politics and the Malay leadership would be discussed at the congress.
He said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail had been invited to open it while Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was scheduled to close it.
Non-governmental organisations, corporations, professionals, thinkers and Malay political parties were invited to participate, he said.
He added that a resolution would be issued at the conclusion of the congress which would be handed over to the Prime Minister. - Bernama