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JPA scholars guinea pigs for government's experiments

Yes, you heard the news. Public Service Department (JPA) scholarships for overseas varsities will no longer be supported. I wonder where has 'Janji Ditepati' (Promises Fulfilled) went? Maybe it is only during election time that they’ll remember their promises decades ago.

Some people argued that we - the 2013 batch of Education Ministry (KPM) bursary scholars - should be grateful. I totally agree with it that we should, but not to the government. We should be grateful to the people who have faithfully paid their taxes instead.

On the other hand, we were told from the very beginning that if we work hard and get ourselves an offer from one of the top 20 universities in the world, we will be offered a scholarship. You may have heard this a hundred times, maybe more, but let me just finish my story before you begin yours. Listen, listen, listen times infinity. Let me talk.

Yes, let me talk. I would like to point out that getting an offer from the top 20 universities is no easy task. In fact, for the KPM 2011/2012 batches, the requirement was offers from the top 50 varsities (not easy as well). So as you can see, the bar for our batch was raised considerably and we really have to work ourselves to the bone.

Truly if it was not for the scholarship, I would definitely not take up A-Levels because it’s just unnecessarily tough. But it certainly gets you an offer from these universities easier, compared to other qualifications.

Apart from hard work, what else do I have to say? Maybe our Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak works as hard as us, who knows... Considering he’s both the PM and the finance minister, balancing a budget for an overspending administration certainly is no easy job. Not to mention over-paying for jets , calculators, submarine, you name it!

Our PM told us that the goods and services tax (GST) has saved Malaysia, but it certainly did not save my scholarship. Frankly, GST did not saved Malaysia, it just saved Najib’s job.

To be honest, I am not desperate to go overseas for a few reasons. But upon hearing that our scholarships have been scaled down, I was not angry or emotional - just disappointed.

Some of us had secured placements at some of the most prestigious schools in the world - such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Princeton, just to name a few...

Meanwhile, some have argued that a lot of these “scholars” go overseas and then never come back, but do they actually know why?

Others argue that we should not send our brightest overseas, and that they should be locked up in cages where they can’t debate, nor express themselves freely. Even clothing has become an issue, with certain public universities enforcing dress codes . Where has the freedom of expression gone?

What about freedom of speech?

So, let me just ask our dear current administration or haters out there: Do our public higher learning institutions promote and encourage academic freedom? Is our current infrastructure/mentality able to accommodate freedom of speech and debates?

If those bureaucrats can answer ‘yes’ without sending their kids overseas, then they can go ahead with their masterplan.

Just so that you know, Mara started the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) or O-Level syllabus for all their junior colleges and would have completed the whole transition last year. And for their pre-university programme, Mara had their students undergo the International Baccalaureate (IB) syllabus.

For your information, the requirement for Mara’s overseas scholarships is an offer from any of the world’s top 100 universities. So, why does Mara choose to send the brightest bumiputeras overseas, considering they have a world-class bumiputera-only university in Malaysia?

I don’t intend to be racist; whether you’re DAP, BN, PAS, etc, one thing you can’t deny is that the world is getting smaller - and Mara clearly recognises it. That’s why they send their brightest overseas so they can come back and rule over you all who still haven’t realised this fact.

I’m not here to tell you that they should revert the decisions, but I just want to point out that the whole scholarship programme has no fault at all. If it’s the implementation of it that is faulty then fix it, not throw the whole programme away.

Singapore, our neighbour, has done remarkably well with their Public Service Commission Scholarships, and most of their cabinet ministers are beneficiaries of said scholarship. Well, they gladly came back and serve their time after studying. Why? It is because they see a future. And frankly right now, mine and 700 others like me were just denied.

So right now, we’ve all been asking each other what’s our plan. For me, I don’t have a plan yet because I’m not like Mara or Ah Jib Gor who’s always ready with a “masterplan” for Malaysia.

I used to have a plan to serve Malaysia whole-heartedly considering the trust that the country had placed on me, but right now mine has change, just like Ah Jib Gor’s promises. Perhaps I might go to our tiny neighbour Singapore -which, though tiny, does appreciate talent.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Malaysians are racist... but you can’t deny that our constitution guarantees certain rights to certain groups of people - of which fortunately/unfortunately, I am not.

On that note, I would like to extend my gratitude to all the JPA officers who have acted in full professional behaviour. We all know you guys were just following instructions. I apologise if some of us had been totally ignorant. I would also like to thank all the teachers and friends who had so much hope in all of us.

I guess 700+ of us will just be the same guinea pigs for all the government’s experiments in education.

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