Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 4th June 2009:
Cabinet meeting yesterday a double-disappointment on university education which must be rectified in a special Cabinet meeting on university intake as well as PSD scholarships for SPM students with 12As
The Cabinet meeting yesterday was a double disappointment on university education particularly to the young generation of Malaysians which must be rectified in a special Cabinet meeting on university intake as well as PSD scholarships for SPM students with 12As.
I am very disappointed that my call for a colour-blind JPA scholarship system has not been heeded by the Cabinet. Clearly, the Cabinet Ministers themselves have yet to fully understand the meaning of 1Malaysia which the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has adopted as the slogan of his administration.
Furthermore, my specific proposal to resolve this year’s public ruckus over the unfair and discriminatory award of JPA selection of foreign degree scholarships has also not been acted upon.
I had proposed that all students with SPM 9A1s and above should be awarded PSD scholarships – which would mean an increased allocation of RM300 million for JPA scholarships budget from RM700 million to RM1 billion this year.
I had said that Pakatan Rakyat MPs are prepared to vote in support of a special supplementary estimate of RM300 million for 2009 when Parliament reconvenes on June 15 to ensure that all students with 9A1s and above in SPM would be given PSD scholarships.
How could the Cabinet Ministers or Barisan Nasional MPs conceivably oppose the allocation of RM300 million for the development of the best and brightest talents among the new generation of Malaysians especially when the country is in the throes of the greatest financial scandal in the nation’s history – the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal?
The open letter of a Bentong mother, Madam Yap Chwee Lian, 44, to the MCA Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong (Sin Chew) expressing her despair at her son’s failure to get a PSD scholarship despite appeal as he got 12A1s in SPM is heart-rending and should be compulsory reading for every Cabinet Minister.
As she said rightly, the wish of every parent is for “son to become dragon”.
Is Wee prepared to ensure that every Cabinet Minister gets a copy of Yap’s open letter, properly translated into Bahasa Malaysia, so that a special Cabinet meeting could be held to do justice to Madam Yap and her son, as well as to similar cases?
Madam Yap rightly asked in her open letter why her son, Leong Choon Lin could not get a PSD foreign scholarship for engineering when the government had announced that 20% or 400 of the PSD overseas scholarships would be allocated according to meritocracy.
In last year’s SPM results, three students scored 16 1A’s, two scored 15 1A’s, six 14 1A’s, 41 of them scored 13 1A’s while 229 scored 12 1A’s.
Why was Madam Yap’s son left out?
It is pathetic that Cabinet Ministers, whether from MCA, Gerakan, MIC or the other component BN parties, could not check and end injustices like the case of Madam Yap’s son with 12A1s or to ensure that the PSD make public the full list of the successful applicants as well as the criteria of selection so that there is transparency to satisfy all concerned that there is no hanky-panky concerned.
The Cabinet handling of the Universiti Sains Malaysia Apex University student intake ruckus is most scandalous.
Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddcin Yassin merely said the Cabinet received a report from the Higher Education Ministry on the “confusion” that arose out of a technical glitch in USM’s student intake for the 2009/2010 academic session – when 8,173 pre-qualified students were put up on the website as successful when actually the number should have only been 3,599.
Apart from stating that “while accepting the reasons for the technical glitch, he sympathised with the predicament faced by the affected students”, Muhyiddin held out no glimmer of hope whatsoever that all the 4,574 victims of the USM foul-up would be given places in the other public universities.
The Cabinet meeting yesterday appeared to be a total waste of time for the 4,574 students and their parents.
When Najib returns from his China trip, he should convene a special Cabinet meeting to urgent address these two issues, viz:
Firstly, do justice to Madam Yap, her son and all in their shoes and approve a special supplementary estimate of RM300 million for 2009 to ensure that all students with 9A1s and above in SPM would be given PSD scholarships this year. Pakatan Rakyat MPs assure Najib full support for such a supplementary vote in the June meeting of Parliament.
Secondly, adopt a solution for the USM Apex University fiasco that not a single one of the 4,574 would be denied places in the other public universities, without prejudicing the chances of other eligible students. This can be done through a two-step process, viz:
As the 4,574 students were “pre-qualified” by USM from over 22,000 students who applied, I will be surprised if there is even five per cent or more than 250 students (which works out to only one per cent of the total public university intake this year) from this group who are not offered places by UPU.
I do not believe that it is beyond the capability of the Malaysian public university system to increase university intake by one per cent of its target intake of 40,366 students for the new academic year when such a tiny increase in university places will see that justice is done and that not a single one of the 4,574 students nurse a life-long grievance against an unfair university selection system.
Is the Cabinet capable of making these two decisions in a special meeting to give real meaning to the Najib motto of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now”?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor