I read the sad refrain being played out again today -- via The Star's page 6 report headlined Top Scorers fail to get scholarships, thus:
BUTTERWORTH: Two months ago, Ng Ee Liang, Desmond Chee and Teoh Wan Ying were feeling on top of the world when they each scored 13 A1s and were named Penang's top SPM scorers.
But all their dreams and hopes came crashing down on Monday afetr finding out that their applications for Public Services Department (PSD) scholarships have been rejected.
"People say boys don't cry, but yesterday I cried my heart out," said a dejected Ng, 18."There are 25 top scorers nationwide and I am in 14th position. All of us had lunch with Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and received certificates from both the Prime Minister and Education Minister for our achievements."
Desidferata had on an earlier occasion (March 18, 2005) writtten in "Education -- prime and precious commodity",with excerpts here reprised:
Here I recall with some sadness last year's case involving some 128 students with outstanding STPM results who qualified for medical studies but could not gain places in local public universities. Some smart-aleck politicians offered "help" to enable them to obtain loans from banks to pursue their studies at private medical schools. After some calculations, most of the parents and students opted out of pursuing their field of first choice academic pursuit. The reason? By the end of the six-year medical course, they potentially face a bill of RM750,000! Only 10 percent (i.e. about 10 to 12 of 128 students) finally accepted the bank loans (I'm sure, reluctantly, for there is that great burden to repay ...)
Which student would want to impose such a heavy burden on the parent? Starting off a career owing the bank a cool three-quarter million, an irony indeed as the local media trumpeted instead the role of the politicians in helping these young Malaysians. I wonder what happened to the youngest billionaire-entrepreneur, also son of a then-minister, six years later?
The press also recently spotlighted outstanding performers at the SPM (10 to 17 A1s) and STPM public examinations (4 to 5 As). A few were assured of scholarships; one received two within a week. Here I would urge our Government to offer EVERY ONE of these young achievers at least a state scholarship to a local university, if not a sponsorship to study overseas. Enough of the present system of scholarships open to application, because we know what the crony system does to such young minds thinking they can thrive on their academic merit, but then later they hit a hard wall, feeling let down and depressed.
It's no use the ministries of Science and Technology going overseas to reverse the brain-drain. It is an exercise in futility. It's no use the Minister of Health lamenting we aren't getting enough doctors in government service. Had the Ministry of Education responded to have last year's batch of 128 outstanding students aided financially to study medicine, we could have prevented some 100 bright Malaysians being lost to other disciplines, and later likely to be lost to other countries who appreciate their talents more. Will we see a repeat of this sad situation a few weeks from now when university applications close and successful ones are announced?
I'm afraid Datuk Chua Soi Lek will continue to face an increasingly uphill task of attracting doctors to government service, I don't envy his position. Our government leaders have better learn the wisdom in the saying: Don't bolt the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Oil fields offshore Malaysia are a-plenty
Yet when world prices rise
Malaysians pay more for their petrol
Shouldn't it be the other way around?
We produce an oil surplus
Which command premium prices
No, the politicians smartly tell us
The oil subsidies keep rising
Hence, we raise the pump prices
We chase away Malaysians in their youth
To study in faraway land
A decade or two later
We beg them to come back
To "serve" the motherland
Who bleeds more, my dear?
Malaysia or Malaysians?
Desiderata composed the poem above some time ago, but it will continue to be reprised as a sad "refrain" because our leaders don't ever seem to listen. I have wept for Malaysia, like JeffOoi of Screenshots fame, I continue to weep, especially for the YoungOnes.