What does the 'sponsorship' really mean?

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“All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.”

- Walter Scott

COMMENT | If you are easily offended, please stop reading. I did not find the news story of a Chinese businessman sponsoring a Malay student from a Chinese school heartwarming.

I do not think it represents a moment of “Malaysianess” when we so desperately need it. Correction, I do not, and have never needed, these moments of Malaysianess. I do think it represents the toxic nature of race relations in this country.

When Muhamad Aidil said, “I was told to be a good student to avoid being transferred to a kebangsaan (national) school. I took it as a challenge to study hard", I started laughing. Here is a kid being told to work hard so as not to be transferred to a “kebangsaan” school with the rest of the unfortunate Malaysians who, for some reason, do not have access to better education and have to make do with.

In other words, all that Islamisation and racial underpinnings of “kebangsaan” schools means very little, and indeed poses a threat, to the education of young people here in Malaysia. Better to send your kids to a “Chinese” school or international schools, if you have the money – like most politicians – than to the poisoned wells that are “kebangssan” schools.

Moreover, let us be honest. It is not as if the cream of the Malay crop are rewarded for their hard work. If that were the case, maybe folks like me (and maybe even you) would not take it so hard when we, by virtue of our ethnicity, are sidelined.

While rich Malay folks and their hanger-ons are immunised from the machinations of the state, in this case, education as propaganda, the rest of the Malay community have to make do with what the state thinks is adequate to maintain the “bangsa” (race) and “agama” (religion) ideology. In other words, mediocrity as a method of anesthetisation.

But make no mistake, this young man for all his hard work, is still in a privileged position compared to the thousands of other young non-Malay people who get equally good results but are:

1. Denied educational opportunities in local educational establishments;

2. Have to scramble for funding, which often means concerned parents forking out huge sums of money for a chance at a better life for their children; and

3. Have to go begging to the various race-based political parties and their proxies, hoping financial relief does not come at too high a price...

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