Thursday, May 29, 2014

'New' JPA scholarship next year?

Read this in the Star last weekend. "A new category will be established starting next year for scholarships under the Public Services Department scheme to be awarded purely based on merit, regardless of race."

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun razak said he was sure that such a category would be welcomed by all communities, including the Chinese.

“We are re-studying the distribution of scholarships under the Public Services Department scheme to introduce a new category.

“Starting next year, we will see the distribution of scholarships based purely on merit, regardless of race.

“We will announce it next year and with the plan to limit to 10 subjects, we expect to see a more level playing field,” he said in his speech at a dinner organised by both MCA and the Associated Chinese Chamber of Industry and Commerce here Saturday.

Najib said this would allow Malaysia’s best students to get aid to pursue higher studies.

“So we will get the best of best and the creme de la creme getting aid for higher studies.

“I believe this will be accepted well and it will allow each individual a fair chance to realise his full potential,” he said, adding however that he was not “letting the cat out of the bag” just yet on the scheme.

Najib said contrary to common perception, not all Chinese were rich.

“Like all Malaysians, they also want to see their children have good education and become successful. All this involves costs,” he said, adding that every race had its needs and if the Government could bring policies that were fair, the Chinese would continue to support Barisan Nasional.

Najib said the Chinese was not against Malays succeeding or opposed to efforts to help the Bumiputra but that they wanted policies that looked at the needs of all Malaysians fairly.

“And that’s why I included it in the 1Malaysia concept,” he said, adding that he would also look into MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat’s request for more government land to build Chinese vernacular schools.

Najib added that during his trip to China, the Chinese government had also promised to bring more investments into Malaysia in the term of equity investments.

“I’m told they are preparing a loan fund if we need this as a sign of their commitment to us. I believe there is an opportunity for China to make an economic boost in Malaysia in terms of development that will include banking as well,” he said.

“I looked into the needs of the local Chinese community when I introduced the 1Malaysia plan, which looks into the needs of every community regardless of the colour, ethnicity and culture.

MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said in his speech that the dinner was not just to celebrate the appointment of Najib as Prime Minister but to also show that the Chinese community would always be with the Government and his leadership as it strived to overcome the current economic problems.

A few comments:

(i) There is already a portion of the JPA scholarships which are allocated by merit (20% out of 2100 foreign JPA scholarships). Read this previous entry for more details. How will this new category of JPA scholarships be any different? Will they be restricted to those students who only take 10 subjects at the SPM level? Will there be a separate application and interview process?

(ii) Nothing is said here about the process by which these students will be bonded to the government. I've said this time and time again - most JPA foreign scholarship holders do not come back to serve the government, if they come back to Malaysia at all. There's no use giving out a new scholarship that is merit based if these students are not made to come back to serve the government in some capacity.

(iii) Nothing is said here about how the civil service will be restructured to cater to these scholarship holders. Again, I don't put the entire blame on these JPA scholars because the civil service is reluctant to take in these JPA scholars probably because they know that these high achievers will probably be bored by the career path taken by most civil servants.

I'd prefer the PM to focus on ensuring that JPA scholars are held accountable and the civil service is restructured so that these JPA scholars can come back to serve the government instead of creating another category of scholarships at taxpayers' expense.

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