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LETTER

LETTER | Is the government failing our young people?

Joshua Woo

Published

LETTER | I was at a food court having lunch. Suddenly a stranger came and called me by my name.

I can’t recognise him. He told me he was Zhan Ye. I tried hard but couldn’t recall, so I apologised to him.

Then he said that he was the student who was helped by Steven Sim (MP for Bukit Mertajam) five years ago.

Then I started to remember because I was Steven’s special officer who helped to handle Zhan Ye’s case back then.

Zhan Ye was a brilliant student who scored straight As in STPM. His ambition was to be a chartered accountant and he worked very hard to excel in the exams.

That year had 335 achievers of straight As in the whole of Malaysia, and Zhan Ye was one of them.

With his excellent academic results, Zhan Ye applied to local public universities to study accounting. Unfortunately, not a single local university offered him the course that he wanted.

Zhan Ye didn’t come from a wealthy family - can’t afford to study overseas or in private universities. He approached Sim for help.

Steven checked with the federal government but there was no favourable result.

So, Steven recommended that Zhan Ye apply for the Penang Future Foundation scholarship managed by the Penang government, which evaluated applicants based on academic merits.

Zhan Ye’s excellent results got him the scholarship, and he was able to pursue the accounting course that he wanted.

That’s what I remembered about Zhan Ye, and was glad to see him today after five years.

Before Zhan Ye left, I asked him if he had a name card so that we could keep in touch.

Zhan Ye took out one and passed it to me.

He is now an associate at one of the biggest accounting & consultancy firms in the world. Five years ago, we were just helping a student.

Until today, we still didn’t know the exact reason why the brilliant student’s application was rejected by all local public universities.

In other countries, talents like Zhan Ye would have been spotted by the central government and provided scholarship opportunities and a place in public university for the course that they wanted, and later offered a significant role in the public sector to maintain the highest standard of governance and institutional efficiency in the country.

In Malaysia, the higher education minister asks students to play TikTok, and we still have secondary school teachers making jokes about rape.


JOSHUA WOO is a former Seberang Perai councillor.

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