JPA s’ships – can Najib Cabinet end the “oppression, injustice” suffered by the nation’s top scorers or is it even worse than the “half-past six” Abdullah Cabinet?

I have been on the twitter for a week and earlier today, I sent out this tweet: “6A1s get PSD eng s’ship – 13, 14 A1s no s’ships: why our Cabinet Ministers allow such nonsense yr in yr out. Sack the whole useless lot!”

This follows the latest revelation by the Deputy Education Minister, Wee Ka Siong, about the PSD scholarships scandal this year – of the case of a student with 6A1 and 4A2 who obtained a scholarship to study engineering while students with 13A1s and 14A1s are given places to do matriculation instead of being awarded with scholarships.
The PSD scholarship uproar this year is all the more inexcusable, for three reasons:

  • It is a tragedy for nation-building after 52 years of nationhood;
  • It has torn to shreds the new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s motto of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now”.
  • It is a breach of the solemn promise made by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz in Parliament in March this year about the end of the annual national travail at this period of the year of the nation’s top SPM scorers being victims of an unfair and discriminatory PSD scholarship selection system.

In Nazri’s speech in Parliament on 18th March 2009, in the committee stage debate on the Prime Minister’s Department on the 2009 second supplementary estimates on the RM60 billion second economic stimulus package, DAP MP for Batu Gajah Fong Po Kuan together with DAP MP for Rasah, Anthony Loke Siew Fook and DAP MP for Bandar Kuching, Chong Chieng Jen kept intervening on the subject of the unjust PSD scholarship scheme to the nation’s top scorers.

As recorded by the Hansard of 18th March 2009, Nazri made this categorical statement:

“Kita bercakap tentang biasiswa JPA. Saya kata yang itu benchmark nya akan ditentukan oleh JPA supaya untuk mengelak daripada apa yang telah berlaku tahun lepas. Orang yang mendapat keputusan yang cukup baik tidak dapat scholarship tanpa mengira kaum, yang top student yang dapat tanpa mengira kaum. Kita akan bagi kepada mereka biasiswa secara automatik. Kerana ini persepsi. Sebab katalah kalau dia dapat 13A1, dia tidak dapat sudah tentulah itu satu penganiayaan terhadapnya. Jadi, saya sudah buat keputusan yang top scorer, kita akan beri. Jangan tanya dua kali.”

There cannot be a more categorical statement than this: Nazri’s solemn undertaking in Parliament that denial of PSD scholarships to top scorers like those getting 13A1s is “penganiayaan” – “injustice, oppression” – and they will all be automatically given scholarships, if not in the course of their choice, like medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, then in other degree courses.

This is what Nazri said at the end of his speech:

“Kemudian, Yang Berhormat Bandar Kuching tanya ramai dapat keputusan cemerlang SPM dan STPM tetapi tidak menerima biasiswa. Apakah jaminan kejadian seperti ini tidak akan berlaku pada tahun ini. Untuk tahun 2009, biasiswa program ijazah luar negara hanya untuk dua ribu tempat dan memandangkan mengikut keputusan SPM 2008, terdapat 1,676 pelajar 1A dalam semua mata pelajaran yang diambil. Oleh itu mustahil untuk memberikan semua biasiswa kepada yang cemerlang terutamanya kerana kebanyakan memohon bidang pengajian perubatan, pergigian dan farmasi, bidang-bidang kritikal di mana terdapat kuota di luar negara untuk bidangbidang ini. Pelajar Malaysia terpaksa bertanding dengan pelajar-pelajar asing lain. Ini masalah praktikal yang kita hadapi iaitu oleh sebab juga kuota di luar negara, universiti mungkin tidak dapat.

Jadi tidaklah boleh kita kata automatik semua akan dapat biasiswa dalam bidang yang dia hendak. Mungkin dalam bidang yang lain, itu mungkin. Jadi kita tidak boleh jamin semua hendak doktor, semua boleh dapat. Belum tentu sebab di luar negara tempat juga terhad dan kita bersaing dengan pelajar-pelajar daripada negara lain.”

The nation-wide outrage at the injustices of this year’s PSD scholarship award is therefore a clear violation of the government undertaking given by Nazri in Parliament in March for an end of such “penganiayaan”.

If the Cabinet meeting tomorrow cannot put right and uphold its earlier decision that top scorers would “automatically” be given PSD scholarships, though not in the course of their choice, then the Najib Cabinet is even worse than the ‘half-past six” Cabinet of the previous Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, as condemned by Tun Dr. Mahathir.

Yesterday, together with DAP MPs Fong Kui Lun (Bukit Bintang), Anthony Loke (Rasah) and Tony Pua (Petaling Jaya Utara), I met the PSD director-general Tan Sri Ismail Adam in Putrajaya and asked that the full criteria for scholarship selection as well as the full list of scholarship receipients together with their results be published.

Ismail said he needed clearance from his political superiors. The Cabinet tomorrow should authorise and direct the PSD to make public the full criteria for scholarship selection as well as the full list of scholarship receipients together with their results in the name of fairness, accountability and transparency – this is the least that the Cabinet should do at its meeting tomorrow.

In keeping with the Najib motto of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now”, the Cabinet tomorrow should come up with a swift and just solution to the scandal of the PSD scholarship awards, based on the following three principles:

  • Firstly, it would be unfair and unjust to withdraw any PSD scholarship which had been awarded last Friday;
  • Secondly, all students with 9A1s and above should be awarded PSD scholarships – which means an increased allocation of RM300 million for JPA scholarships from RM700 million to RM1 billion. A special supplementary estimate of RM300 million for 2009 should be presented to the June meeting for this new allocation. There are four Pakatan Rakyat MPs at this forum tonight and we pledge full support for such a supplementary RM300 million allocation for PSD scholarships for the aggrieved top scorers. I don’t think any Barisan Nasional Minister or MP could argue against such an increased allocation when there is gross misuse of public funds – like the RM12 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal.
  • Thirdly, the whole system of PSD scholarship awards should be revamped from next year onwards to end the perennial complaints every year about the injustices of the awards so that it is in full accord with the slogan “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now”. A Parliamentary Select Committee headed by an Opposition MP should be formed in June meeting of Parliament to completely revamp the PSD scholarship system.

I hope the Cabinet meeting on the PSD scholarships scandal would be more fruitful than the one last week.

After the Cabinet meeting last Wednesday, MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat announced that the Government will review the selection criteria for Public Services Department scholarships and that a meeting the same day would be held among Barisan Nasional component party leaders, the PSD director-general and the Chief Secretary to the Government to discuss the matter and reconsider rejected cases.

However, the most senior MCA Minister was contradicted the next day by the Public Service Department director-general, Tan Sri Ismail Adam, who categorically stated that there would be no review of the selection criteria for PSD scholarships and that no such meeting mentioned by Ong was ever held.

Ong later explained that the Cabinet directive had probably not yet filtered down to the civil service.

This is a most astounding statement and thrown light on why there is such widespread inefficiency, incompetence and ineptitude both in the Cabinet and the civil service.

When it needs to take close to a week for a Cabinet decision to “filter down” to the PSD, from Putrajaya to Putrajaya, in fact from PM’s Office in Putrajaya to next door in Putrajaya, it does not speak highly of the KPIs whether of the Cabinet Ministers or the top civil servants!

Will Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, the Minister for KPIs for Ministers, take note?

Malaysians await the outcome of the Cabinet meeting tomorrow on the PSD scholarships issue with bated breath.

(Speech at the DAP forum “JPA scholarships – seeking a fair and equitable policy” held at the KL/Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 19th May 2009 at 9pm)

  1. #1 by sotong on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 8:12 am

    The s’ship allocation is ” fair ” and ” non discrimitory ” for decades, this is non negotiable…….if you don’t like it, you could vote for the Opposition!!

  2. #2 by k1980 on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 8:26 am

    Actually he means “1umnoMalaysia. Tuans First. Discrimination Now”. Why the heck do you think the mammak wants him to be PM?

  3. #3 by k1980 on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 8:30 am

    Koh TK, the Minister for KPIs for Ministers, is thinking: “Haiyah, why you always kacau me one? You want be to lose my senatorship and my cabinet post? As Chew Mei Fun had asked, do you want to feed me?”

  4. #4 by a2a on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 8:37 am








  5. #5 by taiking on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 8:55 am

    Where is razak baginda’s 500m commission payout. Use it for this year’s scholarship. See simple solution.

    Wot about next year? Ah its an annual event isnt it? The Annual Begging Festival. Begging is of the essence. Kalau tada begging mana ada festival? Next year biar saja begging for next year by next year people and so on. Every year we have new participants. Macam ini baru ada continuity. Faham?

    Ya bos!

  6. #6 by taiking on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 8:57 am

    It is now clear to me what “1malaysia” means.

    It means “1loadofshit”.

  7. #7 by the reds on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 9:20 am

    Obviously, Najib is only PM for UMNO-puteras, and not for all Malaysians!

  8. #8 by pee_ash on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 9:27 am

    A student with 6A1s, 4A2s
    A student with 13A1s/14A1s

    If both the student obtained A1s in Science papers & English paper, then they are on equal ground. It will be down to their curricular involvement, interviews. No big deals. Getting A1s in History, Accounting, Geography are totally irrelevant to Engineering courses.

    Please make sure we get it right before we complaint.
    Definitely, I will make noise if someone without any A1 was selected. But, in this case, 6A1s, 4A2s, why not!!! Get the details first, maybe the student really deserves the scholarship.

    Previously in my time, the yardstick is simple, minimum 8 subjects, maximum 10 subjects. Students with 8A1s to 10A1s will get scholarships.

    But now, 15, 16 subjects…this is crazy…
    10 subjects are the most you need to take. there is no point in taking more unless you are not sure of your path…i would rather enjoy my life as teenager…

  9. #9 by pee_ash on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 9:35 am

    education ministry is the root cause of this problem. they should maintain the consistency for SPM/STPM papers grading.

    i never see the grading system. how to determine A grade? by total points scored or by top 10% of students?…

    the only thing i am sure is overall the results are improving every year, more and more people getting As…and education ministry will get the credit out of it…malaysia is the only country capable of achieving this feat…

    i’ll bet you will see the differences when you compared 8As student back in 80s and 8As student now…

  10. #10 by SocratesPlato on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 9:43 am

    According to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the non-Malays are paying 90% of the personal income tax, in particular the Chinese.

    Maybe it is time for the non-Malays, especially Chinese, to pay only the percentage of their income tax according to the awards of the government given to them. If the government is only awarding 20% of it to the non-Malays, particularly Chinese, then we just give them 20% of the full income tax paid.

    There is no point paying in full since the money is being abused for the undeserving people to enjoy, fully supported by Kasim Amat and Cintanegara.

    Yours truly,
    Cintan mee fan

  11. #11 by tsn on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 9:45 am

    This issue is fast becoming “genius circus”. To cry out loud about the unjustified of 6A1, 4A2 awarding is rather primitive. Indirectly we are implying 6A1 4A2 is a dumbo, undeserved. If this student is from deprived family background, secure the scholarship through honest way, then here we are the most lousy clown in this circus. What will be your feeling if you were this holder? Lucky if he/she is from poor background, then he/she will be spared from ill-feeling. Poor people normally have lower priority in feeling, free food, free education are more important.

    Will the situation be rectified next year? I doubt so. So long as unlimited demands chase after limited resources, free & ‘extremely expensive, allocation wise is bound to be problematic.

    I do not know how long our country can sustain this brain nurturing scheme. Well! Just pegs its with oil reserves. Soon this financially unsustainable practice is definitely to be discontinued. Why don’t we do it know. Dump whatever resources we use for this quarrelsome scheme into our local higher institutions, even private, semi-private can have a nibble, things like grants, cheaper loan, lower corporation tax rate… to our private institutions.

    As we the learned, justice fighters here, we must walk the talks. Please enrols all your bright offsprings into our local higher institutions. Do not stupidly burn our hard earned savings, EPF, remortgaging your only roof just to get a piece of A4 size paper from US/UK/Australia.

    Our respectable and honourable YB Lim Kit Siang & LGE, I hope you do not accidentally appear in Monash University, attending your grand/children 1st class honour convocations. Congratulations if they are there because of the scholarships from Australian government.

  12. #12 by pulau_sibu on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 10:19 am

    The scores of public exams nowadays do not warrant any scholarships. It is an inflation. It is like ringgit after the economic crisis. The As do not mean much.

  13. #13 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 10:22 am

    The BN politicians and PSD people
    are true believers of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s
    “Ask not what the country can do for you,
    but what you can do for your country”

    Pay your taxes
    Feed your family
    Educate your children
    These are what you can do for M’sia
    Ask not the BN gomen to do them for you
    just becos your kids have 9 or more As

    Of cos, also question not the BN gomen
    what it chooses to do for selected groups of citizens

  14. #14 by tsn on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 10:28 am


    Great philosopher expects to have great philosophy. Paying tax according to tax law is citizenry basic responsibilities. Once the vicious cycle starts, you are evil, I am bad, where is the ending.
    No circumstances should we reduce ourselves to a lower ground.

    Don’t you know that that evil mamak invoking that 90% figure is to provoke Malays how well Chinese are doing in Tanan Melayu. Instead of NEP 30%, they entitle more, UMNO is getting for them.

    ON the other hand Chinese shouldn’t sail too dreamily in an overinflated life raft. We always think we contributed plentifully to our governmernt coffer. If I am not mistaken it is almost 40% of our public revenue is from oil and oil related sources. Not far if we say that our not-too-bad-life-so-far is very much blessed by black gold.

  15. #15 by Godfather on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 10:31 am

    My son with 13A1s wasn’t even called for an interview. He’s now at a top 10 university (global ranking, not local ranking) and doing very well, with the world at his feet. I told him not to return to Malaysia because that would cause more heartache to his sense of injustice.

    cintanegara and kasim amat will have their wishes fulfilled because the brain drain is something which they welcome. Mamakthir said that it is better not to have smart citizens that question too much. It is far better for UMNO to have average citizens who don’t question at all.

  16. #16 by Godfather on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 10:43 am

    The solution is so simple. The selection process must be transparent. The criteria must be fully explained. We don’t mind students of 6As getting scholarships if their personal circumstances warrant it – children of hawkers, farmers, plantation workers, etc.

    Use the formula of 50:40:10 for selection. 50 pts for family economic situation, 40 pts for academic results and 10 pts for extracurricular activities. Applicants who come from a family income of less than (say) RM 3000 per month should have the full 50 pts. This way, they are almost guaranteed of scholarships if they can demonstrate even average academic results – it’s a way of motivating them to do better.

    With this formula, I dare say that the bulk of scholarships will go to Malays and Indians but I would be the first to defend this selection process because it goes to the right people. The JPA’s job would then be to vet the family circumstances to ensure that people do not under-declare their family income, and to impose penalties if successful applicants were to have won their scholarships through misdeclaration.

    This issue need not be a racial one – and everyone should support a meritocratic formula based on both needs and results.

    As someone pointed out, Razak Baginda’s commission on the submarine deal alone was RM 500 million. The PKFZ bailout so far was RM 4.6 billion. There’s plenty for all – but only if justice prevails.

  17. #17 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 10:54 am

    In the long run, to many with mountain of As,
    not getting a PSD scholarship
    is a blessing in disguise

    There is still life after rejection from PSD
    There are scholarships from other sources
    not necessary from sources within Malaysia
    Be bold, be adventurous
    Apply for scholarships from overseas
    For example, the Asean Scholarships
    Scholarships from US universities, etc

    Challenge yourselves
    Compete with international students
    Free yourselves
    from the racially-warped mindset of the motherland
    Be a global player
    The world is your oyster

  18. #18 by pee_ash on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 11:44 am

    actually, there is 5% of allocation to MCA/MIC.
    it’s for them to gain political credit in case of students appeal for review.

  19. #19 by Godfather on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 12:10 pm

    Ong Ta Kut:

    What is your strategy for the Annual Begging Bowl competition ?

  20. #20 by siamo on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 12:18 pm

    Najib’s 1Malaysia has no credibility from the start. It is mere sloganeering.

    His actions have not given any basis for Malaysians to believe he will be fair, democratic and work for the people. It looks like it is 1UMNO. Trying to force a change of government in Perak is a 1UMNO initative. If it were not that PKR had appointed an Indian, the likes of Ganesan will never even figure. MIC, is so desperate for a position, that it agreed to allow Ganesan to take his place. And except for one appointed chinese, all are from UMNO.

    We will never see the days when a Chinese can be head of a State Development Corporation, Bank Negara or MAS for that matter.

  21. #21 by siamo on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 12:21 pm

    Godfather, you must give OTK credit for at least begging, on behalf of the Chinese community.

    But, I don’ t he will even dare to ask. He will just accept. Afraid to lose the minister’s post.

  22. #22 by Ramesh Laxman on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 12:53 pm

    I do not think that we should beg. Our MPs should take this matter as a matter of principle. The Government cannot use state fund to discriminate against its citizens. Come on members of the opposition you have sufficient MPs to do some thing. Remember, the last time the BN only carried a motion by 39 votes. If I am not mistaken you have more than 80 MPs.

  23. #23 by Ramesh Laxman on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 12:56 pm

    In the meantime, let us set up our own Funds to send the best to the best colleges and universities in the world, irrespective of race.

  24. #24 by pulau_sibu on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 1:17 pm

    I must say both BN and Pakatan are fighting over the wrong thing. WRONG!

    The best SPM students should be sent to the local U. Without doing that you ended up with getting lousy students all the time. Put a stop to issuing overseas scholarships for the first degree. Scholarships should be given (90%+) to those doing a doctoral degree overseas. It is time to build up our own infrastructures at local U, and absorb the best technology for research overseas. For the first degree, there is no big deal and the knowledge can be acquired every where in the world. The first degree is no more than dealing with the knowledge developed more than half a century to several centuries ago.

    You all the politicians should not talk about the education. You all just have to do your politics.

  25. #25 by bennylohstocks on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 1:26 pm

  26. #26 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 2:41 pm

    How about letting all shortlisted scholars sit for a common ‘PSD Scholarship Qualifying Examination’ to prove their worth before deciding who will get the scholarships?

    Scholars who pass the examination will be given the scholarships and scholars who fail will have to re-take the examination next year.

    Every shortlisted scholar is given 3 chances to sit for the Qualifying Examination, after that, he will be disqualified for the scholarship.

    The idea of having a ‘Qualifying Examination’ not only helps identify the cream of the crop but it also helps in tackling the problem of too many candidates competing for too few scholarships.

  27. #27 by Loh on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 3:05 pm

    Using family income as a cut off point for selection criteria in scholarship award would create injustice even within the same community. Let us assume that a scholarship overseas is worth 100,000 pounds over four years. That is 520,000 ringgit and that has to be saved over a long period, say over 20 years starting with the birth of the kid. That is 26,000 ringgit a year. Let us assume the example of a one-kid family. What should the income of the family be to allow for a stress-free saving of 26,000 ringgit a year when the family is expected to pay also for a house, the cars and all the other necessities?

    If we set an income cut off point of 3,000 ringgit a month for scholarship eligibility, then that family would be better off than one which earned 5,000 a month over the past 20 years. In fact family might have to earn much more than 5,000 a year to afford a kid studying overseas. Income cut off should not be the criteria for scholarship. That might be used for the award of study loans, and for that matter, the quantum of loans should be coded against ‘family income’ if needed.

    Scholarship should only be awarded based on merits, and merits alone. NEP created the excuse for government to play God as if a few examples of rural poor means that the whole community is going extinct. Rich universities around the world grant scholarships only on merits. If Malaysian government plays around with the criteria for giving out government funds based not on merits, please do not use the word scholarships, just like Allah is meant only for Muslim God.

  28. #28 by chgchksg128 on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 9:03 pm

    I do not understand we should send our best students to oversea. We are talking to improve our UM< UKM< UPM ranking? Yet, we sned the best, only second string enroll local uni, this is the way we want to go? wake up all….
    Those who get local scholarships should b glad. Of course, there is no transparency in the JPA scholarships offer.
    YB LKS, your directly of JPA plea is not correct.
    Stop giving out JPA pversea scholarships. This is our hard earn money. I can not see JPA scholar contribute more than the local uni grads to Malaysia.
    I think we should only send them oversea for Master and Phd and they need to serve Malaysia else they need to be sue

  29. #29 by Godfather on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 9:36 pm

    “Scholarship should only be awarded based on merits, and merits alone.”

    I disagree. It should be a combination of need and merit. If it is purely on merit alone, the needy would never have a chance. If it is based on need alone, then the high achievers would never get the incentive they deserve.

  30. #30 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - 10:22 pm

    A child from a rich family
    given the best tuitions and tutors
    given the best food
    given opportunities to play games and learn music
    driven to school and everywhere
    just eats, studies, sleeps
    got 9 or 10 As

    A child from a poor family
    no tuition, no tutor
    struggled for food
    no time to play games and learn music
    had to take bus to school, work part time
    do house work, besides studying on his/her own
    got 8, 9 or 10 As

    Who deserves to get a PSD scholarship?

  31. #31 by AhPek on Thursday, 21 May 2009 - 1:36 am

    “in fact family might have to earn much more than a year to afford a kid studying overseas.Income cut off should not be the criteria for scholarship.That might be used for the award of study loans,and for that matter,the quantum of loans should be coded against ‘family income’ if needed.”.loh

    It’s an excellent argument for taking a stand that scholarship should be for the top scholars and not just for anybody.In other words it should not be for the top 2000,it should only be for the top 50 or perhaps the top 100 whilst the rest should apply for study loans! And whether the loans should be granted would then have to be based on needs and merit.Good clear thinking,and I think NUS in Singapore is doing that for all students who are admitted (admission qualification is very high though) are eligible for sponsorship,and their sponsorships are something like study loans to be paid back when the student has finished his study and has started working.The various scholarships available are based strictly on merit,no consideration is given based on family financial background!
    In the case of Malaysia,scholarships for higher study should not be given to SPM students,it should be given to STPM student for STPM is a better yardstick to gauge not only whether a student is university material or not,it should also be a better gauge whether they can be admitted to the world’s best tertiary institutions like Harvard,Cambridge,Oxford,MIT etc for these are the universities we want our top students to get admitted in!

  32. #32 by ekin on Thursday, 21 May 2009 - 2:40 am

    If best students left here, their mind are smart, not easily control. That’s why they are sent oversea(don’t come back!) HA HA What is left here is either half-past six or dumbells to be controlled, just like the 3 stooges here in this site(Mr Pathetic Kassim Amat, Mr Pathetic Cintan Negara and Mr Laksamana(disguising) Cheng Ho.)

  33. #33 by Hatred on Thursday, 21 May 2009 - 1:38 pm

    Explanations aren’t needed as we already know what is going on. It would be better to remain silence after gaining advantages, and appreciate the very good luck given. Hypocrisy and arrogance don’t make a man.

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