Friday, May 15, 2009

JPA Scholarship: We Never Learn

Every year, the award of JPA scholarship is marked by controversy. We hear the same old story of children with 12As, 13As and 14As who failed to get any scholarship.

To begin with, we see that there are more and more non-Malays are awarded with JPA scholarship. This started from the year 2000. However, it cannot be denied we have more and more students with excellent academic results who failed to get any awards. The following points are worth pondering:

1) No government in the world can give scholarship to every student with excellent results.

2) Not all students with excellent results can get admitted to the medical course (I understand most of them who are rejected are those applying for medicine). In a lot of countries, for example Singapore, excellent results do not guarantee admittance into the medical faculty. Often, they have an interview to evaluate the communication skills and the attitude of the students. I have a lot of friends’ children whose got all As in HSC A level but failed to get into the medical course.

3) We are one of the few countries that award scholarship at the SPM level, “O level” to pursue university education. Most countries is based on the A level exam.

4) A lot of students with excellent results are a disaster when it comes to the interview. I used to be a board member of the Johor Education Foundation and every year, I go around to all local universities to interview students for scholarship or loan with other officials under the Johor Education Foundation. I did this for more than 13 years. I must admit that I am appalled by the lack of common knowledge and interest by a lot of our students in universities with excellent result. We have a lot of bookworms. I don’t ask names of VIPs during the interview. Simple questions like ‘why are you pursuing your chosen course’ often elicit no response. If you are poor, how do you support yourself in the last few months in the university? The response can be unbelievable.

JPA should do a better job of sharing with the public the criteria for the selection of students. If students are rejected, give them reasons for rejection. Of course there will always be suspicion of racial discrimination and lack of transparency breeds more controversy and suspicion. I had the opportunity of a short interaction with the Prime Minister in his office yesterday and he told me that he is personally looking into the matter so that every deserving student should be awarded a scholarship although there are monetary constraints.

While it is true that more and more non-bumiputras are getting scholarship to go overseas or within the country, there is also a corresponding increase in bumiputra scholarship. The end result is that in the last 4 years, non-bumiputra students that were awarded scholarship by JPA accounted for 25.4% on average per year. For those who were awarded JPA to study in the country, the percentage of non-bumiputras is about 10%. The government should increase the number of scholarship for the non-bumiputras. While helping the bumiputras, the government should not deny the deserving non-bumiputra students of their opportunities to further their studies through the JPA scholarship. The brain drain problem will continue to haunt us until we put our act together. That act is to act like what the PM said 1Malaysia where there is fairness to everyone, irrespective of race, at the same time, the government do not neglect the bumiputras.












Vince said...

Dr Chua,

It surprised me you did not touch on the 1st Case of H1N1 in Malaysia?

Goh Wei Liang said...

Datuk Seri, I would like to share some experiences with you as a JPA scholar myself.

I disagree that providing JPA scholarships will help cure the "brain drain" problem.

There are several problems actually when students get their scholarships.

And I can provide true accounts of these with nothing to hide and no fear.

The first lies on the part of PSD for weak enforcement of contracts and allocation of public sector jobs. This is bad because we are spending billions of ringgit on PSD scholarships and yet we do not ensure that these quality human capital serves to improve and develop our country.

It used to be rigid when a PSD scholar will serve only under PSD. Things have changed recently when PSD scholarship contracts can be transferred to other Government agencies like the Securities Commission, Bank Negara Malaysia and public universities.

Yet, I wonder how many of these scholars will be allocated jobs in the public sector.

The second problem is on the part of the scholarship recipients. When the time comes to serve in the public sector, I see many praying and hoping that the Government will not enforce the PSD contracts and allocate jobs for them. There are some who are planning to break off the Government bond by repaying the whole sponsorship fund.

This is very sad. We hear many people screaming and complaining for scholarships.

Yet in the end, many are not back home in the country to improve matters.

Brain drain problem does not lie in the part of providing scholarships but strict enforcement of the PSD Contracts.

Suci Dalam Debu said...


Our education system sucks because it is often hijacked by politicians to promote their own agendas. The policy has failed in many areas and is known by many but seldom mentioned in public lest it cause uneasiness to the powers that be.

There are still many poor non-bumis students that need help.

Yes help the bumis, no problem with that, but make sure they are deserving ones. At the same time, non-bumis should not be denied assistance where needed.

During my time at uni, many bumis scholarship holders were from rich families including royal ones. What a sham.

Scholarships should be given only to

1. Students from poor families
2. Students in the "genius" class irrespective of their financial background. The nation needs their brain power. If we don't give, Singapore would.
3. Students with slightly less than top grades but with excellent "others".

Many a non-bumi student often asks: Why am I denied assistance? Apa salah saya? Sudahlah ayah miskin, kerajaan pun tak nak bantu. Study kuat, kerja kuat, result bagus. Kawan melayu saya, anak orang kaya, result tak bagus macam saya, tapi dapat ini, dapat itu.

Razak's famous word: "It is not brain drain, it is trouble drain" regarding Malaysia providing top students FOC for Singapore.

Good luck students.

malayamuda said...

give a good legitimate reason.
dont give racist reasons like

engkau bukan bumiputra, sorry !

Ah Beng Crosby said...

Our exams are too easy to score, our teachers are not able to teach the students to be able to think independently and our education system has been politically abused.

We know if we increase the passing marks and increase the difficulties in the questions at the SPM, we will see fewer students excels but that will gives a poor impression to the Education Ministries, hence the need to lower the passing marks.

Graduate said...

I know one dept in a local university that several years ago sponsored 2 non-bumi students to pursue their PhD overseas. After finishing their PhDs they never return home to serve their contract. This will disrupt the long term plan of the dept. There is no reason to sponsor a third non-bumi student who may just do the same- at least pay up if you decide to break to contract. Most of the bumi sponsored students returned after their studies to serve their sponsoring institute.

lipandes said...

this is a fair assessment.

The question pose to you then,
what can we do to create less of a bookworm who is only good at answering exam questions and more of an all rounded intellect?

august said...

I agree that not all straight As students can be good doctors. Most students want to do medicine for the prestige and money. IMHO as a health professional ,the present lot of young doctors are not fit to be doctors. The problem with them is they do not see patients as human beings especially the poor patients. They are only cases to them. The main problem with them is they don't CARE enough. Also, one of the criteria for a scholarship is that they should come from a poor family. I have friends who are managerial level and their children have a JPA scholarship and usually these are the ones who do not return to serve the country. We must help the poor and deserving and not help the rich

JR said...

Malaysia Education System does have failure... While JPA has been commented, I shall share with u in regards of the Matriculation System...

1st question, why must there q quata to accept non-bumi into matriculation?I am talking this quoted that I was an ex- Matriculation student Representative.

Datuk Seri, I'm proud to tell u that non-bumi are among the top scholars in Matriculation...e.g, Penang College Matriculation- the 2nd semester result for yr08',out of 250 students who scored PNGK 4.0, more than 90% of them are non-bumi yet the number of non-bumi students is less than 10% in the matriculation college...

With this, I do hope Dr chua, in light of this, dr Chua would probably lead the MCA as a platform to serve us... fight for us...

1 Malaysia simply talk about fairness and just in whatever matters regardless of race!!!...

We look forward to your move, Dr Chua...

JR said...

Dr Chua,

This post is not in regards of this JPA post, This is the only way i can post my question to you... Why did Dr. Ong lie?...

he said there will be review on the selection criteria for JPA and meeting is held on wednesday among barisan leaders together with the PSD head...


The director-general of PSD claimed there will b e no review and there was no meeting among Barisan leaders...

What is happening?

We are seem to be blinded...

Furtherance, the disclosure of PKFZ report... I spoke to a MCA youth Sentul leader somedays ago...
His opinion, "obviously He- Ong is protecting some partis"

Dr chua, MCA among the teenagers especially universities students...we don't think it is transparent as what being claimed by Ong.

Dr chua, MCA should do something...
Please...never go ahead with the current system or policy...

You guys leaders might think there is nothing wrong with the current system but the Citizens do not think so...

I believe U can reform MCA, restore bback the faith of people with MCA...

Gemini said...

Prime Minister is personally looking into the matter so that every deserving student should be awarded a scholarship although there are monetary constraints.

Well done, Sir.

However, are we actually facing monetary constraints? Almost every day I read in the newspaper about our Minister of Tourism, Ng Yen Yen going around the world with her battalion of supporters, husband included, with the so-called mission of 'selling Malaysia'.

Some simple questions here, Sir.

Since appointed as Minister of Tourism, how many countries has she visited? How much rakyat's hard-earned money has been spent? What missions or visions she she accomplished? Do we really need such BIG BIG promotions when the world is facing critical economy recession?

Dr Chua, you are the 2nd Man in the MCA. Please speak up! The MCA must try to win back the hearts of the rakyat. Its leaders must not let the rakyat down.

sheen said...

There is no point giving more scholarship if most of the students run away from their contracts. The brain drain and cash drain would definitely be a big disadvantage to Malaysian taxpayers.
Being a medical student overseas, I have seen first hand the attitudes of most if not all Malaysian medical scholars’ mentality-to run away without paying anything after graduation. (They think like this even when they are still in their first year) The selection process must be flawed in that they choose students who are not loyal and would not want to serve our country. The government has to change the selection criteria to weed out these future absconders and take stern action against current absconders such as sue them bankrupt/revoke their passport to warn the other future absconders.
Malaysia's hospital pay and working condition seemed to improve significantly but they just selfishly think of the extra money they get from the higher exchange rate overseas. Career advancement is truly an excuse because from the current UK rules non-Euro doctors are the lowest in the priority for specialist training and with Australia having its increasing number of medical students the same situation would prevail soon.
I have known some medical scholars from UK and Australia currently working in our neighbour, Singapore which offers the same working condition- overwork, not much overtime pay, and basic pay of about $2500 except for the higher exchange rate. The government should act on the absconders now before we lose millions more of our nation building funds. Warn the other countries-Singapore, UK, Ireland, Australia by giving them a full list of scholars to identify that these doctors have to serve their contract. It is important to mak sure that these countries are aware of their presence or else some would pretend not to know.

Chin Yit said...

Dear Dr Chua,

Congratulations to your appointment to the chair of BN coordinator.

About JPA Scholarship, shall i suggest that, we allow the top universities themselves to choose our students.

JPA can help all applicants pay the application fee.

If admissions tutors should accept our students, then JPA can grant scholarship automatically, if the students require financial help and are willing to serve our country.

Again, Congratulations again to your appointment. At least you now have a formal post to serve the people.

Best regards,

chin yit

Unknown said...


I think what the Government should do first is to raise the marking standard for SPM. I cant see this happening in any countries other than Malaysia to have students scoring 13A1s, 14A1s even up to around 20A1s. Do we really have so many geniuses in this country we have to ask ourselves.

If the marking standard is increased, we would have less those so-called top scorers. Grades should be based on a national bell curve to select the top of the cream. Having done this, I'm sure there wont be so many "top scorers" thus no need to increase the amount of scholarships. In fact we can reduce the number of scholarships and reserve them for the really bright students. As you said it, I don't really think SPM is a measure of competency, if you manage to memorise all the syllabus which isn't a lot to start with, scoring straight As isn't hard at all, speaking from experience.


Unknown said...

Dear Dato Dr Chua,

I am bloody sad to read, listen and see our bright and smart Malaysian students irrespective of races are denied scholarships to pursue their tertiary education in local universities or overseas. It is indeed shameful and disgraceful to learn from BN corrupted leaders with their poor CAT government and also very bad flip flop national policies today.

Many Malaysian top scorers from SPM and STPM are rejected by PSD or Universities Selection Committee in regards to their scholarships and choice of tertiary courses. Nevertheless, the injustice and unfair treatment given to our smart and bright students in Malaysia is a brain drain policy adopted by BN rulers for past 50 years till today. The BN leaders prefer to import uneducated migrants and converted the legal and illegal migrants to Malaysian PR but chase away many local smart educated cream students to our neigboring and western countries.

Well, it is really time for Pakatan Rakyat to change the education system and its CAT policies to ensure all smart students irrespective of their backgrounds, races nor religions deserved 100% financial support from the federal and state governments. If BN had caused billions of losses or missing funds in Klang Port, BMF Scandal, Submarines' scandal and etc to enrich some culprits and corrupted politicians using the taxpayers' funds, then why cant the BN federal govt via PSD provides 100% scholarships to all top scorers in SPM and STPM in Malaysia ?

For good example, I was one of the poor smart students been denied a scholarship and also rejected to enter local university during the early 80s due to NEP policy and Bumi quota system. I scored all As in my SRP, SPM and STPM during the 80's but unable to enter local university of my choices. Finally I got an ASEAN scholarship to complete my bachelor degree, master degree and professional degree in overseas and in NUS, Singapore under the private and Singapore government scholarhips. However, I was bonded to serve the Singapore government and private sector for 10 years and given a choice to become a Singapore citizen or PR status. I still prefer to remain as a MALAYSIAN because I am a loyal citizen. After 10 years working in this small country, I decided to serve in an investment bank for 15 years in Malaysia because I love this beautiful Malaysia. Today I am worried my smart son and two daughters will be denied scholarships and the Uni Committe will reject their choices of degrees in local universities. They are scoring perfect all As in the PMR and SRP results and will be sitting for their SPM this year. They have 100% confident to score all As to apply for scholarships to do medicine or music degrees here. As a local taxpayer contributed to the thousands income per month via PCB to IRD that my children deserved the scholarships based on meritocracy system but not race quota system.

Now it is time for all Malaysians to wake up the sleepy corrupted leaders and greedy politicians in BN to reward the smart Malaysian students' rights for full scholarships and enter to local universities of their choices. Otherwise, it is time to change the entire weak BN government and hand over the nation power to Pakatan Rakyat to rule in the next 13GE.

1 Makkal Sakti - 1People Power

Regards, Anak Perakian

Unknown said...

100% agree with Tuanku!

Time for BN/MCA to wake up...however I don't see BN changed much since Political fact they have changed for WORSE - PKFZ scandals, outrageously robbed democracy in Perak, abuse of SPR, police, MACC power etc etc etc....

And a simple issue like JPA scholarship took them ages also can't resolved!!!!!

I used to respect Dr. Chua, but since he has been appointed as the coordinator for BN in the Pakatan states recently...I reserve my view on him!!! let's see....

simon said...

Datuk Seri, last few days you told all malaysian that all straight A+ and A spm candidates 2009 comfirm will get jpa scholarship by posting your comment and big picture in Chinese newspaper..if do not piln then will get pidn...."it is a lie if you said you didn't get anyone".
but why i didn't get the scholarship while i got 4A+ and 6A in spm 2009..who's lying now? i totally upset with you datuk....and now i got no idea how my family going to support me in IPTS.
i totally agree what "Suci Dalam Debu" wrote...please help those are really need for the scholarship....

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