Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Should Direct An Immediate And Automatic Approval Of Government Scholarships For All Top Scholars Compatible With His Efforts To Turn Malaysia’s Economy To Be Knowledge-Driven And Results-Based

Press Statement

Lim Guan Eng

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday):  Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should direct an immediate and automatic approval of government scholarships for all top scholars which would be compatible with his efforts to turn Malaysia’s economy to be knowledge-driven and results-based. The revelation by Penang SPM top scorers Ng Ee Liang that top scorers throughout the country were denied government scholarships has touched the hearts of all Malaysians and caused much dissatisfaction at the irrational and irresponsible processing requirements of the Public Services Department(PSD). 

Ng Ee Liang had scored 13 A1s and was placed 14th out of 25 top scorers in Malaysia and yet was denied a PSD scholarship to study medicine. He moved many Malaysian parents when he said the boys don’t cry, but yesterday he cried my heart out after his application for a PSD scholarship was rejected. I believe that Malaysian parents would also shed tears of sympathy for him at such injustice and anger against the PSD for such cruelty. 

The government should be ashamed for not knowing how to value talented young people. Top scholars should be celebrated as role models for other students and admired for their abilities and achievements. They should not become objects of sympathy or forced to shed tears in public– or is this type of Malaysia Boleh spirit that the government wants? 

Desmond Chee is also another top student who scored 13A1s, whose scholarship application to do medicine was rejected by PSD. Like Ng Ee Liang, both wanted to be doctors and getting a scholarship was their only hope as they came from poor backgrounds. DAP can not understand the criteria imposed by PSD until top scholars’ application can get rejected even though these top students were even publicly feted and photographed in a dinner with the Prime Minister and Education Minister. What is the point of having dinner with the Prime Minister if the excellent results are not even recognized with a government scholarship? 

The public can not understand why the government does not want to sponsor our top students to do medicine when the country faces a severe shortage of doctors. The shortage is so serious until the government spends RM 40 million yearly to sponsor 700 foreign doctors to serve in government hospitals. Worse some of these doctors can not even speak Bahasa Malaysia and have dubious credentials in the light of many public complaints of medical malpractice such as operating on the wrong ear. Would not the RM 40 million be better spent on training our own doctors? 

Instead of spending money on foreign doctors, such money would be better spent on training the our best and brightest to be doctors to serve in their own country. How long are we going to see the brain drain of talented people continue until half of the doctors serving the Singapore General Hospital are Malaysians? It is therefore not surprising with such short-sighted policies driving away talented people that Malaysia is getting less competitive in international trade as shown by Malaysia’s drop in the World Competitiveness ranking from 16th in 2004 to No. 28th in 2005 even behind Thailand(27) for the first time in history. 

DAP expresses disappointment and regret that these problems of top scholars not receiving due recognition from the government in the form of scholarships or places in universities recur again and again every year. Such problems only proves that MCA, Gerakan and BN’s promises of justice, fair treatment and meritocracy are only empty promises for the consumption of gullible voters during general elections. 

The time has come for government departments and PSD to discard outdated, inefficient and ineffective practices and be updated with the latest management techniques that are applicable to make Malaysia competitive again by nurturing and holding on to our best and brightest. Merit policies that retain our best brains must be implemented. That is why it is so important that the Malaysian government encourages our top students and show the commitment towards them with automatic scholarships.



*  Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General