KUALA TERENGGANU: The Terengganu government is prepared to channel surplus food from its flood relief programmes to its students studying abroad.
This, said Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman, was in view of reports that the weak ringgit was taking a toll on the students' finances.
Some, he claimed, even had to split a bowl of instant noodles four ways.
Razif said sending surplus food can go a long way towards assisting these students.
He said that the majority of those affected were privately-funded students who were facing a cash shortage after their remitted monthly ringgit allowances depreciated upon conversion to the foreign country's local currency.
"I have been made aware of the students' plight. In one case, I was told that four of our students at an Egyptian university had to share a single bowl of instant noodles due to financial hardship.
"As we have not been affected by the annual monsoon floods, we will channel our surplus food stock such as instant noodles and our very own traditional dishes like nasi dagang and keropok lekor in frozen form, to be shipped to affected students.
"The frozen dishes are easy to eat, they just need to be microwaved for several minutes. The frozen dishes can also be stored up to a year without losing its flavour and quality," said Razif after presenting RM1.017 million in cash incentives to 313 Terengganu Foundation graduates at Wisma Darul Iman.
Razif said state-sponsored students overseas were less affected by the ringgit's depreciation as their allowances were adjusted accordingly.
"Nevertheless, the state government has prepared a special RM1 million fund for needy privately-sponsored students.
This will enable them to apply for a personal loan of RM10,000 each to meet their expenses while pursuing their studies abroad.
"They are still our 'anak' (children of) Terengganu and we will try to offer as much assistance as we can," said Razif.
At the incentives ceremony, 40 received RM5,000 each for obtaining a Masters degree, including one who obtained a doctorate.
RM3,000 each was given to those who obtained a bachelor's degree.
The Terengganu Foundation has sponsored a total of 1,037 undergraduates to the tune of RM4.13 million from 1998 to this year.
Mohd Firdaus Samsuddin @ Mustapha, 29, from Kuala Berang, was the sole graduate who obtained his doctor of philosophy in biochemistry from Oxford University, England.
Firdaus, who was awarded a special prize by Razif, has been offered a job as a research fellow with Southampton University, England.