Sunday, May 22, 2011

A = Agony, for our bright students

Some top scorers are baffled that they have not been offered Public Service Department scholarships despite having excelled in their examinations.

Yeoh Zheng Yi, who scored straight As in his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia or 'O'-level equivalent examination said he thought he had done well during PSD's scholarship selection interview.

He was disappointed that he was not selected.

“My parents are retiring soon and my younger sister needs to go to college, too. I need this scholarship to ease my parents' financial burden.

“I would prefer to study engineering, particularly in Germany.

“But at this point, I wouldn't mind accepting any scholarship from PSD just as long as I get one,” Star reported the student from SMK Tinggi Bukit Mertajam in Penang as saying.

He said he was required to submit his parents' salary statements with his application.

“The form which is downloaded from the PSD website is no longer available now that applications for scholarships are closed,” said Yeoh.

Another top scorer C.M. Vishnu Arvindran from SMK Taman Jasmin 2 said he had not received the scholarship he had applied for, although he had scored 9A+ and 1A.

“Yet, some of my friends who got 8A+ obtained their scholarship of choice,” said Vishnu.

He added that he had wanted a scholarship to do a degree course in medicine but was awarded one for a diploma in science.

Both students hoped they would still be awarded the scholarships after submitting their appeals.

Appeals will demotivate and wear down the deserving

Vishnu and Yeoh are just two among the many well-deserving students who have been victimised through the years by Malaysia's discriminatory education system and racial policies.

Even so, the Najib administration is unlikely to heed the calls of the experts, choosing quick political gains from the favoritism game rather than install painful reforms that sadly can no longer be delayed.

Away on an overseas trip to the United States, Prime Minister Najib Razak did not even bother to acknowledge the angst felt by the country's brightest youths.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has ordered a probe into the scholarship allocations, but few are convinced any lasting solution will be obtained. Many believed the selections were intentional and authorised.

"In this day and age, with computerised databases and the amount of technology available, how can such a straightforward process of awarding scholarships to top students end up so botched?" Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said in a statement.

"Malaysian students who have worked diligently in order to achieve their dreams now face the prospect of having their dreams crushed by a bureaucracy that is inept and unappreciative. What about the parents who have to explain to their children that despite doing their best and being the best, they have been denied their due opportunities because of a silly bureaucratic mistake that they now have to appeal for?"

Guan Eng also slammed a suggestion by Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong, who is also MCA Youth Chief, that the students accept whatever the government has dished out to them as a stop-gap measure but follow-up by appealing to the authorities.

Indeed, many parents fear it was just the MCA's way of trying to deflect the heat from their party and the BN government. Most believe nothing will come out of the appeals, perhap just a handful may get a reprieve for publicity's sake.

"How can the Federal Government make those students appeal for something that they well and truly deserved? To do so is akin to punishing them for a fault that is not theirs! This is nothing short of preposterous, and the Federal Government had better get their act together or risk losing more Malaysian talent to other countries who must be laughing their heads off at our sheer incompetence," said Guan Eng, who is also the DAP secretary-general.

Worst-ever year

Every year, there is huge grousing over the unfair way the government allocates scholarships - by race rather than results.

This year was the worst, especially since Najib had previously promised PSD scholarships for all students who achieved 8A+ in the SPM examination.

According to MCA Youth chief Wee Ka Siong, who is also deputy Education minister, the mess-up was not the Cabinet's fault but rather the PSD officials who went out of line.

But Wee's statement raised eyebrows and triggered calls for the officials to be punished if his claims were really true.

Many Malaysians doubt that PSD officials would be brave enough to flout orders from the PM unless they were instructed to do so.

"If there is evidence of skewed implementation of government's sound policy to grant scholarships based on merit, then the derelict officials or Little Napoleons should be severely disciplined for flouting the government directives," Ramon Navaratnam, past president of Transparency International, told Malaysia Chronicle.

"It is examples of distorted policy implementation like this that will scuttle the Government Transformation and Economic Programmes and undermine the whole concept of One Malaysia and National Unity. This can cause serious social dissatisfaction that invites the authorities to throw the Sedition Act against such recalcitrant and insubordinate government officials. They are paid by our tax payers who will not tolerate such defiance and discrimination if found to be true."

[Source: MC]

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