Company denies allegations of making millions from foreign students' visas

The new political party urged MOE to take action and terminate a contract with Scicom. -Pix from Google

By Huzraifah Atikah

The Education Ministry will comprehensively study the allegations of a company that has been making hundreds of millions in processing foreign student visas without offering any value-added service.

Dr Maszlee Malik said the Ministry will take appropriate action if it was found that power abuse and mismanagement had taken place. 

However, the company that was accused, which is Scicom (MSG) Berhad has strongly denied the accusations. 

Its senior vice-president, Yeeling Wong said that before Scicom put its system in place, it took between two and four months for student visas to be issued by the Immigration Department.

“Today, our turnaround time for complete and fully-vetted applications is less than seven working days. The purpose of EMGS (Education Malaysia Global Services, owned by the ministry) in this regard has been fully achieved."

EMGS is tasked with the management and processing of student visas for international students, including ensuring health insurance coverage for foreign students.

“Therefore, to say that Scicom’s role is ‘negligible’ is completely untrue, to say the least,” Wong said.

She said Scicom was a well-regarded Malaysian public company and its finances were open to public scrutiny, and Scicom was awarded the contract by the education ministry purely on a privately-funded initiative (PFI) basis with zero investment from the government.

She said they had a revenue-sharing model whereby Scicom would bear all of the costs and “provide a significant share of the revenue to EMGS”.

Wong described the allegation made by the new Parti Negara as ‘malicious’ and has also questioned its motives behind it.

“However, this is not the first time we have received such false and destructive allegations from the pro-tem vice-president of this new party,” she said. 

“We manage complex operations for multinational clients and governments,” the company said, adding that it was considering taking legal action against Parti Negara because the allegations were malicious, defamatory and made in bad faith”.

Prior to this, the party has urged the Education Ministry to terminate the contract that the previous government signed in 2014 to manage foreign student visa applications.

In its memorandum handed over to Maszlee’s aide at the Education Ministry, Parti Negara that was formed last week by former PKR Youth chief Mohamad Ezam Nor, said the company named Scicom (MSC) Bhd made a profit of RM94 million last year.

Ezam claimed that half of which was due to its contract with the ministry-owned EMGS.

In the memorandum, it is claimed that the company has been charging RM1,000 per student but offered no other value-added services although the Immigration Department was only charging RM160 per head.

It added that the bulk of the work for managing student visas was still undertaken by the Immigration.

The memorandum also claimed that Immigration officers were found to have been stationed at the company’s office in Kuala Lumpur and not at the department.

“This violates national security,” said the party’s pro-tem vice-president S. Gobi Krishnan, adding that Malaysia’s attraction to foreign students as an education hub has taken a beating due to the high fees on student visas.