Lawyer to sue Khazanah for denying son scholarship


By NG CHENG YEE,chengyee@thestar.com.my

KUALA LUMPUR: A man wants to sue Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Yayasan Khazanah and its director after his son failed to get a scholarship offered by the foundation and the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust.

Lawyer Chan Chow Wang, 67, said he was planning to retire and personally funding son Xiao Yao’s studies would be a huge financial burden.

He also did not understand why Yayasan Khazanah had rejected the application as Xiao Yao had on Jan 5 received a conditional offer for a place at the University of Cambridge.

Yayasan Khazanah works with the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust to offer the Khazanah Cambridge Scholarship to students who have gained admission to the university through the usual application route.

Xiao Yao is scheduled to do his BA Honours degree in Chemical Engineering via Natural Sciences. The course starts in October.

Chan said that when he appealed to the foundation and asked for an explanation for the rejection, all he got was a letter telling him that the competition for the scholarship programme was very stiff.

He added that he would file a suit against the three parties because of the embarrassment, anguish and depression caused to his son.

“I will also lodge a complaint with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and request it to investigate the scholarship programme,” he said at a press conference yesterday.

Chan said the tuition fee for his son’s first-year study was £18,000 (about RM89,000) while the college fee was £4,462.50 (about RM22,000).

“With living expenses, my son will need about RM150,000 a year for this four-year degree programme and it is a huge sum of money,” he said.

Chan said it would be difficult for him to fund his son’s education as he was planning to retire in two years.

He had also funded the education of his four children, including Xian Yao’s education up to A-level.

The half-past-six JPA scholarships:half-boiled eggs and half-baked moves…


ON THE BEAT WITH WONG CHUN WAI

The former have had bad press but they may be better than they are made out to be. But the latter cannot be excused at all.

I HAVE finally turned 50. The day started off with a breakfast of two half-boiled eggs with the right dash of soya sauce and pepper, and a cup of hot Milo.

It’s a simple pleasure in life and certainly most Malaysians would describe our traditional breakfast as heavenly.

I am sure it’s a Malaysian creation. I still do not know why Singapore has not staked a claim on this brilliant culinary work.

Maybe Singapore refuses to be associated with anything that’s regarded as half-measured, half-done or half-boiled. But hey, our national tolerance for mediocrity is higher, so if it tastes good, who are others to tell us otherwise.

I do not know whether our penchant for half-boiled eggs has anything to do with the national psyche but let’s not allow jealous foreigners to divide us. We do not want Perkasa to turn this into a nationalist frenzy over half-boiled eggs and we certainly don’t want Ibrahim Ali to issue “ada telur” dares to imagined foes.

Half-boiled eggs would be frowned upon in Western countries, where most hotel kitchens refuse to accept such orders as the eggs would not be cooked according to the stipulated health requirements.

Westerners, who cannot stomach what we eat, feel they could be exposed to salmonella, the bacteria that can lead to food poisoning. So never bother asking for half-boiled eggs during your holidays overseas.

Besides, what’s half-boiled eggs without kicap?

Older Malaysians have been taught from young that to stay healthy, we should have two half-boiled eggs every morning. I really do not know how, when and why some medical experts suddenly concluded that eating eggs, especially with the yolks – the best part of the eggs – can ruin your health.

One large egg is said to have 213mg of cholesterol, all found in the yolk, and eating too much of it can lead to a high cholesterol level. That’s what was said in one story I googled.

But I have also read that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had a strict diet of 28 eggs a week plus steak, salads and her favourite tipple – whisky – each time she campaigned.

That’s according to personal documents published by the Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust. She is turning 86 this year and we know for sure that this Iron Lady remains one of the best leaders the world has seen so far.

I am pretty sure Tony Blair and Gordon Brown didn’t like eggs. But I am convinced that Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz and Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen also eat plenty of eggs. They are sharp and look good. Gutsy, for sure, and they make many men politicians look like wimps.

Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo conti­nues to defy nature. But I’m not sure if it’s half-boiled eggs or tempeh, a popular Javanese soy product.

I do not know why but eggs always seem to fly in the direction of some politicians. Joining the fray over the award of Public Service Depart­ment (PSD) scholarships, maverick minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz has finally said the controversy should be discussed by taking into consideration the views of other parties, including the MCA and Gerakan.

He seems to miss the point – no one is saying that all PSD scholars should be sent overseas. What the applicants have complained about is that there have been those with less than 8A+, some allegedly with just 6A+, who have been sent overseas by the Government.

It does not matter what race or religion the applicants are but if you are not a top achiever, what are the possibilities of these scholars entering top schools like Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard or Imperial College London?

It does not make sense to use taxpayers’ money to admit them into middle or low-level universities.

Our grading system has already been questioned by top foreign universities. The high string of distinctions mean nothing to them now.

Yes, we are all aware the Prime Minister has promised that students who obtained 8A+ and above are eligible for PSD scholarships to study either locally or abroad. It’s a fantastic decision and everyone should be clear about it.

But procedures on scholarships should be clear and open. It really doesn’t make sense when there are mismatches, bad decisions and even questionable moves. It is precisely this resentment that has led to eggs being thrown at the faces of the PSD officials.

All the good intentions of the Government are now being affected because of these half-boiled, or rather half-baked, measures.

Good students deserve scholarships

I AM very disappointed over the current distribution of the Public Service Department (JPA) scholarships.

As the chairman of Higher Education Bureau, National MIC Youth, I strongly believe that Education should be fair to all students irrespective of race and religion.

All Malaysian citizens must have equal rights to a good education. Many work hard to earn their good grades.

Nobody is questioning the Federal Constitution here, so there is no need for certain groups to say that we have gone against the Constitution when we raise issues affecting the community.

What we are asking is for government scholarships to be given to deserving students regardless of their race and religion.

These students are the creme de la creme.

Those who scored 8A+ and above expect to be given a scholarship.

While some of the top scorers are lucky enough to be “grabbed” by neighbouring countries for their outstanding results, many are forced to look elsewhere for funding

There are also parents, who have to use up their life savings to send their children overseas. Can anyone blame these students if they do not come home after graduation?

In recent years, our government has been trying to woo overseas Malaysians who have made great strides in their chosen fields to come home, simply because of their expertise and knowledge.

It would be such a waste to lose these top achievers to other counntries, and then complain later that there is a brain drain.

MAHAGANAPATHY DASS

Chairman, Higher Education Bureau

National Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) Youth

JPA Managing scholars is incompetent!


Lin Ern Sheong -JPA scholarship: A bond-free scholarship for young Malaysians

I am currently a 4th year student at the University of California, Berkeley. I am also a JPA scholar. (JPA stands for Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam, or the Public Service Department of Malaysia.)

While I am thankful for the JPA Scholarship, I could not fail to note the lackadaisical method which JPA employs to ensure that its scholars return home and serve the nation after graduation, especially those who are not in the fields of medicine and law.

Many JPA-sponsored students I know have not returned home upon graduation from overseas institutions. The story would go like this. The JPA scholar reports to Putrajaya after graduation, and then tries to apply for jobs with the Government. If he does not hear back from JPA within 12 months, he is released from his 6-year bond with the Government. There is no need to pay back.

I suspect that many scholars do not even report home, but go on chasing their own dreams abroad immediately after graduation.

Indeed, many do not hear from the Government within 12 months. I have also heard of JPA scholars who genuinely wanted to serve the Government but could not, because JPA was unable to give them any postings.

For this very reason, the JPA Scholarship has become a much sought after scholarship. It is effectively a bond-free scholarship! This is a far cry compared to scholarships from other Malaysian corporations such as Petronas, Khazanah and Bank Negara, which are strict with its scholars when it comes to returning home after studying abroad.

It doesn’t make sense to spend hundreds of thousands of ringgit per scholar and then let them do whatever they want after graduation. I have been having a hard time explaining to those of other nationalities why my scholarship’s bond is pretty much nonexistent, despite the fact that so much money is spent by the Government.

Since the incorporation of TalentCorp, things might have changed, as there are now more job openings in the private sector for returning scholars. The question is, has anything really changed?

Hitherto, the JPA Scholarship has been an avenue for brain drain — right under the Government’s nose. If JPA does not have enough jobs for its scholars, they should at least enforce that scholars are to work within the country for 6 years, or else pay the Government back.

Otherwise, I would have to come to the logical conclusion that the JPA Scholarship was meant to encourage Malaysia’s brain drain.

Ideally, the JPA Scholarship should serve the purpose of harnessing Malaysia’s best talent for the public service of the nation.

* Lin Ern Sheong hails from Petaling Jaya and is proud be Malaysian, at home or abroad. He is currently studying Physics and Electrical Engineering in the United States.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication.

Managing scholars

I REFER to Lin Ern Sheong’s letter above.

The topic of JPA scholars returning to Malaysia upon graduation has been a much discussed topic.

However, aside from establishing TalentCorp, it seems that no other concrete action has been taken to ensure that an appropriate action plan is executed to assist scholars with placements in industries.

Being a JPA scholar and currently working in one of the ministries, I have encountered numerous types of JPA scholars: those who returned and wanted to serve the Government as officers; those who returned and wanted to contribute their knowledge in a relevant field of study; those who did not want to serve their bonds; those who refused to return home on graduation; and those who wanted to serve the Government only if the jobs offered were related to their field of study, among others.

These JPA scholars clearly indicate that there must be a well-planned programme to cater for them upon graduation.

Every year, JPA scholarships are awarded to thousands of applicants and suffice to say, keeping track of each applicant is an arduous task.

But, regardless of this, it should not be a reason for our nonchalance in keeping track of the progress of each student, particularly those studying overseas.

With the introduction of the Government Transformation Programme and the reiteration on the importance of Return of Investment, it would only be appropriate if a specific programme, to ensure that these students are placed appropriately in the industry and their talent tapped, is initiated.

Although TalentCorp has been established, it is not an enforcing body (which in my opinion is JPA) and its aim spreads across a continuum of objectives such as trying to get researchers, scientists and professionals working overseas to return.

But there is a need to cater to the placement of scholars upon graduation. Even if they’re not working for the Government, at least ensure that they are working in Malaysia so that the knowledge gained overseas is of good use.

The initiative can even include a technology and knowledge transfer programme that allows these scholars to transfer the knowledge they gained overseas to local industries.

These are my personal opinions but I’m sure the enforcing body, that has been involved in sponsoring students locally and overseas, is more adept in proposing a thorough action plan.

I was a JPA scholar and I graduated as an engineer from one of the best universities in the United States and now, I am working as a diplomatic and administrative officer.

Many of my friends, who are in the same position as I, have either quit or are going to quit because they were not offered permanent positions as officers, and neither were they offered positions as research officers, science officers or engineers.

In short, the talents are not managed in a proper manner and it seems that whether these scholars return or not did not make any difference.

We, the scholars, are left to find our own ways and means to free ourselves from this contractual bondage so that we can expand our knowledge and industrial experience.

I, being one of them, am currently looking for opportunities to pursue my higher level degree overseas. This time, I might choose not to return.

AN OPINIONATED SCHOLAR, Malacca

Go for PSD scholarship


AMPANG: Those who have yet to apply for a Public Service Department scholarship despite scoring 9A+ or more in their SPM examination will not be left out, said Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The Deputy Prime Minister said these students could still apply for it, in view of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s assurance that all students who scored 9A+ or better would be granted PSD scholarships for local or overseas studies irrespective of race.

“They can come forward and we will take them into account,” he told reporters yesterday after opening the Ampang Umno division meeting here.

Najib, who made the announcement on Saturday, had described the move as “historical”.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said it showed that the Government had no qualms rewarding students based on meritocracy, adding that it would not be a problem to source for the additional funding.

“The Prime Minister’s statement is a happy one for all sides,” he said, adding that a big portion of those in the list announced by the PSD had already received their scholarship.

The Government had previously said that it might withdraw PSD scholarships for overseas studies gradually. That plan drew criticism from certain quarters.

All top scorers to get PSD grants

KUALA LUMPUR: All students who score 9A+ or more will now receive Public Service Department scholarship regardless of their race, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“We have achieved one thing that we have never done in history. Every student who scores 9A+, irrespective of his or her ethnic background, will get a scholarship from the department.

“It doesn’t matter if they are Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban or others. If they score 9A+, they will get the scholarship whether for local or overseas studies.

“This is to show that 1Malaysia is not just a slogan,” he said when opening the MIC annual general assembly at Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday.

His announcement received thunderous applause and a standing ovation from the hundreds of MIC delegates attending the assembly.

Others present included MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

Najib also said 2,304 of 2,499 Indian students who qualified for entry into public universities were given places. A total of 4,541 Indian students applied to enter public universities this year.

“This is a clear manifestation of the Government’s effort to help the Indian community,” he said.

Students are now graded according to A+, A, A-, B+, B, C+, C, D, E and G. Previously, the grades were from 1A to 9G.

In March, Education director-general Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom explained that the highest possible grade under this system was an A+ which indicates a score of more than 90% in a subject.

A total of 214 students from government schools and another 41 students, who were either from private schools or private candidates, obtained A+ in all subjects taken.

A total of 1,500 scholarships have been awarded to top SPM scorers under the PSD’s Overseas Degree Programme to pursue their studies at universities abroad this year.

MCA vice-president: 9A+ grants in line with 1Malaysia
Tue, Jul 13, 2010
The Star/Asia News Network
KUALA LUMPUR: The announcement that Public Service Department scholarships will be awarded to all students who score 9A+ or higher regardless of their race is in line with the 1Malaysia concept, said MCA vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

She said such a move was unprecedented in the country?s history and a positive move forward for all Malaysians.

?This decision means that those who qualify will enjoy the scholarships. This is something that has never been done before in our history.

?It shows that the 1Malaysia concept advocated by the Prime Minister is not just a slogan,? she said here yesterday.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had announced, during the MIC general assembly on Saturday that these succesful students would receive PSD scholarships to pursue their studies locally or overseas, regardless of their race.

-The Star/Asia News Network

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