Monday, May 23, 2011

DAP and MIC Indian leaders flay PSD for running its own kingdom in the distribution of scholarships to high achievers

Its the same old scenario again. Students with excellent results do not get Public Services Department (PSD) scholarships.The critical courses like medicine , law, pharmacy, dentistry and engineering are given only to the bumiputera students and the non-bumiputeras are given the rest.In a rare show of agreement the DAP and the MIC want the PSD to stop this biased practice.Both the parties also called for a revamp of the Public Services Department (PSD) over its failure to provide scholarships to students who had obtained excellent results in their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations.

Teluk Intan DAP member of parliament M Manogaran said PSD has to be revamped to prevent erosion of public confidence of government institutions.The selection committee for PSD scholarships, he said, should comprise academics, government and opposition MPs as well as PSD officers.His call comes following a revelation by Deputy Education Minister, Wee Ka Siong, last week that 363 straight A+ students failed to receive the scholarships this year.This is a repeat of last year’s fiasco which required the intervention of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who had promised that all students scoring 8A+ and above would receive PSD scholarships.
I’m sure that there are PSD officers who are fair and diligent in their work. And the present award list should be cancelled,said Manogaran in a statement.

The opposition lawmaker also called for the setting-up of an independent multi racial committee to distribute the PSD scholarships starting next year.The present committee is made up of predominantly one race,he said.And this is reflected in the distribution of courses between the bumiputeras and non-bumiputeras.Many of the critical courses like medicine, law, pharmacy, dentistry and engineering are being awarded to bumiputeras and the non-bumiputeras are given the rest. PSD should continue maintaining its scholarship quota but I want to see a fair distribution of courses between the two groups, he added.Manogaran’s statement is backed by an academic from University Malaya, who declined to be named for fear of backlash from the Education Ministry.Students can also get a lot of exposure while studying in such universities and different course Engineering,Internet MBA and Intelligent Software Systems.

In an interview earlier this year with FMT, she had identified two major flaws in the education systems both of which involved the PSD scholarships.The first, she said, was a severe shortage of scholarships for physical sciences. The second and more alarming was that these scholarships were being awarded to students who either didn’t have the aptitude or the interest to pursue a career in physical sciences. From her observations most of these students are bumiputeras.Malaysia produces less than 20% of physical science graduates,she stated. Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China produce 30% to 40%, which increases their preponderance for acquiring technology.

And because most of our graduates weren’t interested in physical sciences in the first place, they carve careers in other industries upon graduation, which further dilutes our already limited resource pool.Manogaran meanwhile also wanted an immediate investigation on the methods used in the awarding of scholarships and, if necessary, for a report be made to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) and the suspension of the top PSD officials responsible for the present predicament.He added that in ignoring the cabinet directive on the award of scholarships, the PSD appeared to be running its own kingdom and has forgotten that they are public servants.Public servants must remember that they are servants serving the public and not act as little Napoleans. They must be beholden to the public and not take public interest for granted.The government itself must show that it is serious and sincere in implementing a fair system instead of playing politics. So I call for immediate action to correct the situation and restore public confidence in what is meant to be a merit-based system,he said.

Independent committee

On another front the MIC wanted the government to set-up an independent committee to investigate the scholarship distribution.Party vice president SK Devamany said the PSD had failed to follow Cabinet directives and this warrants a through investigation.There are many students coming to my office appealing for scholarships. So far 367 students have approached us asking for assistance, said the deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.Off the total, 200 students complained about the unfair PSD selection criteria while 167 students aired their grouses because their application for matriculation courses have been rejected despite obtaining 6As or 7As. Many of them are from poor families and a few underprivileged students from hardcore poor families,he added.Students obtained straight As and but they were heartbroken when they realised that their application for scholarships were rejected. PSD must realise that high achievers are assets to the country,he said, adding that the selection criteria should also be reviewed to bring an end to this problem year in, year out.MIC Youth chief T. Mohan said the government should put a stop to this problem as it appears every year without fail.This year is no exception and the complaints are similar to that of previous years with students with excellent results being left out or offered unrelated courses,he said.He said it was more sickening to learn that some non-bumiputera students have been offered scholarships for professional courses although they did not have basic requirements.

Fair distribution?

According Mohan, he came across a case where a student, who had 10As, offered a scholarship for an agriculture course although the student had applied to do medicine.There is also another case where a student obtained 8As but was offered a scholarship to do a diploma in science. It has come to our knowledge that there are certain students who only have 5As but they are offered PSD scholarship to do medicine…is this fair distribution of scholarship?” he questioned.
Meanwhile, MIC secretary-general S Murugesan urged students with 9As but not offered PSD scholarships to approach the party headquarters or contact the party via e-mail.He said all complaints would be compiled and forwarded to PSD for relevant action or explanation.He said the party was disappointed that this issue kept recurring despite it being raised on numerous occasion in Parliament and the Cabinet.

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