Saturday, May 16, 2009

JPA Scholarship - Rational Review

Year after year, we read that many top scorers failed to receive the PSD scholarships from the Malaysian Government.

Of course, these were top scorers but I hope people keep in mind that meritocracy is not everything.

I have been through a lot of dealings with the Public Service Department. Over the years, I have dealt a lot and frequently communicated with JPA officers and education attaches.

In my honest opinion, academic results will only qualify us for an interview.

It is how we perform during the interview and what additional bargaining chip we have in terms of presentation, the way we carry ourselves, our professionalism, and of course our achievements in extra curricular activities.

It is like getting a First Class Honours and going for a job interview.

It doesnt mean that a First Class Honours from Oxford will get the job as compared to another person with First Class Honours from perhaps Nanyang University of Singapore.

Other X-factors come into the picture and at the end of the day, I wont be surprise if a Monash University graduate or a NUS graduate beat an Oxford kid.

If we go for a job interview, and there is another applicant who happened to be our coursemate and had better results than us, will you be surprised that we might get the job in the end and not him ?

I am sure many of you who are Executives, job seekers, and HR managers know what I mean.

We all know that meritocracy does not guarantee a person to get something in life.

Selection and proper filters must be in place because we have more and more students getting 9 A1s and above.

No Government can give scholarship to every student with excellent results based on budget constraints.

As usual, most of the students rejected are applicants of medical studies. Getting straight A1s do not guarantee that the person a place in medical schools.


One solution to this that will be seen as fair is to have the Malaysian Medical Association step in and perform the interview for medical scholarship applicants.

Many other factors must also be considered such as family income of the applicant, co-curricular activities participation and of course the performance during the interview.

When I was in an interview with JPA for the undergraduate scholarship a few years ago, a few of them in my group had better results than me by count of grade A.

Sadly, during the interview, these so-called top students did not show that they are quality material.

Some were not able to converse properly in Bahasa Malaysia, the national language of our country. Many stammer when speaking and could not even structure their sentences properly during presentation of opinions.

Awarding scholarships alone is one thing that will never solve brain drain. Strict enforcement of PSD contracts must be in place also.

There are many scholars who received scholarships and later default from their contract.

Many were critical about working for the public sector and already planned to stay away from public service before completion of studies. Some even considered paying off their contracts to be free from the bond and work overseas.

The JPA scholarship has all the while been controversial but nevertheless, the people must also understand what happens after that too.

I strongly urge Tan Sri Ismail Adam to improve the enforcement of the contracts and review the selection criteria so that controversies like this do

It irritates me to know that scholarships are demanded by many so-called top scorers but these people are not repaying the kindness of our taxpayers by serving in our country.not surface anymore.


Related post : PSD Scholarship & MCA


(Credits to TheStar for the photos)

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree..when I went for an interview for one of the top scholarship in this country after my SPM, I don't have as many As as other candidates. But I performed well in the interview and I got the scholarship. Grades is just a mean to get to an interview. That's why they called the candidates for interviews/presentations; to asses how they think,present and explain their ideas.After all,surviving in life ain't about grades..

SH Tan said...

While it may be true that meritocracy is not everything in the selection of PSD scholars, let's not forget that there are also times when the good ones were not selected on an unfair basis. I do not know if the previous article whereby you mentioned the statistics given by YB Ong Tee Keat with regards to the PSD selection has been verified but all these years, it has been said that PSD does allocate a small portion of the scholarship allocation for the public servants' children.

When I went for my interview, I was alongside with many others who were rejected on the very first step of the application process. Yes, none of us got the interview opportunity with the same reason ranging from meritocracy to family background, financial status and what not. However, from the help of various political parties such as MCA, some of us were fortunate enough to be given either a second or a third chance to be granted an interview opportunity. That day, there were 12 of us. While some may not be good at conversing or even stammer during the interview, I must say that there were a few others who were very much qualified, given the way they were leading themselves during the open forum session in the middle of the interview process. However, the end result for the day was that none of the applicants were successful. So, the same appeal process has to be repeated again with the help of some political parties to ensure that some of these qualified students stand a chance to get the scholarship. The officer who conducted the interview has pointed out at the very beginning, in a very sarcastic demeanor that this interview session was held in light of the "complaints" made over the dailies. Thus, it is very gracious of the PSD to actually hold another session just to accommodate the so-called "unfortunate" batch. Should any of us get rejected on that day, there should not be any more complaints. Of course, I'm not pin pointing that a certain race is being discriminated. Not at all. In fact, those who attended the "special" interview session on that day were of a myriad of races.

There are unfortunately a certain quarters who are able to pay for their own education but they took up the scholarship because of the prestigious name that follows - I AM A SCHOLAR. Hence, many of these people then consider breaking themselves from the bond and to work overseas. While we cannot stop this from happening, I believe the PSD can revamp their very messy organisational structure as it is now. Students under the PSD contract normally do not know for sure when a certain rule changes. For example, during the pre-departure briefing, the officer in charge once said that PSD ruling is never rigid. Any verbal statement will be a new ruling imposed on the students as well. That is quite bizarre for an organisation like PSD. The enforcement of the contracts can only happen when there is a job provided for these students as well. I believe many have gone home and waited but during the wait, it is definitely not advisable, let alone being a smart move for a student to just wait doing nothing. Thus, many of them, who are bright students themselves, managed to secure a job and entered the workforce while waiting for the PSD to get back to them. I can't say that this move is wrong. No one can live in uncertainty for a year doing nothing. When you're tied down to a company, sometimes, circumstances bring you abroad for a certain project and so on. And during that time, you're still waiting for the PSD to get back to you. So, for these people, I believe it is not that they're not repaying the kindness of our taxpayers. Rather, it is what they call a move to ensure their own survival in this new working world that they just stepped in.

A QLD state scholar once told me that there was a bond attached to their state government scholarship. However, upon graduation and reporting, the student who managed to secure a job elsewhere got back to the government and asked if there is a vacancy available. If there isn't, can she accept a job elsewhere or does she have to pay or wait for an unknown time period? Fortunately, the QLD government said that they've no vacancy and she was free to go without any strings attached. Maybe the PSD can advise the students on what to do apart from a one-year wait. I believe nobody would want to be at a disadvantage by putting themselves under a bond forever. Thus, it is understandable as to why some rather not inform the PSD that they've secured a job lest their service contract gets extended for another unknown period of time.

SH Tan said...

While it may be true that meritocracy is not everything in the selection of PSD scholars, let's not forget that there are also times when the good ones were not selected on an unfair basis. I do not know if the previous article whereby you mentioned the statistics given by YB Ong Tee Keat with regards to the PSD selection has been verified but all these years, it has been said that PSD does allocate a small portion of the scholarship allocation for the public servants' children.

When I went for my interview, I was alongside with many others who were rejected on the very first step of the application process. Yes, none of us got the interview opportunity with the same reason ranging from meritocracy to family background, financial status and what not. However, from the help of various political parties such as MCA, some of us were fortunate enough to be given either a second or a third chance to be granted an interview opportunity. That day, there were 12 of us. While some may not be good at conversing or even stammer during the interview, I must say that there were a few others who were very much qualified, given the way they were leading themselves during the open forum session in the middle of the interview process. However, the end result for the day was that none of the applicants were successful. So, the same appeal process has to be repeated again with the help of some political parties to ensure that some of these qualified students stand a chance to get the scholarship. The officer who conducted the interview has pointed out at the very beginning, in a very sarcastic demeanor that this interview session was held in light of the "complaints" made over the dailies. Thus, it is very gracious of the PSD to actually hold another session just to accommodate the so-called "unfortunate" batch. Should any of us get rejected on that day, there should not be any more complaints. Of course, I'm not pin pointing that a certain race is being discriminated. Not at all. In fact, those who attended the "special" interview session on that day were of a myriad of races.

There are unfortunately a certain quarters who are able to pay for their own education but they took up the scholarship because of the prestigious name that follows - I AM A SCHOLAR. Hence, many of these people then consider breaking themselves from the bond and to work overseas. While we cannot stop this from happening, I believe the PSD can revamp their very messy organisational structure as it is now. Students under the PSD contract normally do not know for sure when a certain rule changes. For example, during the pre-departure briefing, the officer in charge once said that PSD ruling is never rigid. Any verbal statement will be a new ruling imposed on the students as well. That is quite bizarre for an organisation like PSD. The enforcement of the contracts can only happen when there is a job provided for these students as well. I believe many have gone home and waited but during the wait, it is definitely not advisable, let alone being a smart move for a student to just wait doing nothing. Thus, many of them, who are bright students themselves, managed to secure a job and entered the workforce while waiting for the PSD to get back to them. I can't say that this move is wrong. No one can live in uncertainty for a year doing nothing. When you're tied down to a company, sometimes, circumstances bring you abroad for a certain project and so on. And during that time, you're still waiting for the PSD to get back to you. So, for these people, I believe it is not that they're not repaying the kindness of our taxpayers. Rather, it is what they call a move to ensure their own survival in this new working world that they just stepped in.

A QLD state scholar once told me that there was a bond attached to their state government scholarship. However, upon graduation and reporting, the student who managed to secure a job elsewhere got back to the government and asked if there is a vacancy available. If there isn't, can she accept a job elsewhere or does she have to pay or wait for an unknown time period? Fortunately, the QLD government said that they've no vacancy and she was free to go without any strings attached. Maybe the PSD can advise the students on what to do apart from a one-year wait. I believe nobody would want to be at a disadvantage by putting themselves under a bond forever. Thus, it is understandable as to why some rather not inform the PSD that they've secured a job lest their service contract gets extended for another unknown period of time.

surv said...

100% agreed sir.many of my friends default the bond to work overseas.It takes a strong will to come back and serve the country.It is unfair to many who got back and had to serve 7 years at least in civil service.There must be ways to honour these oversea students.Maybe placement in GLCs to widen the scope of service.Call them ingrate bunch but who does not want big money at the young age which is what they deserve.

Jared said...

One cannot tell how transparent these qualifying & meritocracy systems are in place in the Education ministry. We are merely guessing based on past records. I do agree that the interviews does look (or should look) into other factors such as presentability, confidence level, being an all-rounder, and so on.

However, many of us cannot tell whether candidates that have qualified were indeed very much better off than the ones who were rejected. Its solely up to the discretion of the approval committee. The regular rants we hear from the public are due to the lack of transparency in the current qualifying system in place. Of course, some might argue that outside in the job market, HR personnel won't tell a rejected job applicant reasons behind the rejection. But this is a public scholarship we're talking about here. The taxpayer's money. Taxpayers like you and me deserves to know how well these processes are being conducted.

The enforcement of the JPA contracts on the other hand, Yes, a review needs to be done. I'm not aware how long the PSD scholars need to serve in civil service. If what Surv says is indeed true, 7 years in my opinion could be too long. Perhaps shorten the time period to 3 years? Many scholars defaulted the contract by paying off to work overseas. I suggest the pay-off penalty for contract default should be substantially increased. Working overseas, probably in the UK would easily allow the individual the pay-off the penalty fee as overseas job especially in Western countries tend to have much better salary levels coupled together with the foreign exchange factor. I believe the penalty should factor in a certain percentage in which the penalty varies between countries the individual chooses to work at. Higher at certain countries with higher income per capita. The percentage should be based on the amount of scholarship offered to him/her.

Sure enough my suggestions would draw huge disagreements from many but I wish to remind these individuals that a contract is a contract. By law, anyone or any entity should respect and serve the terms of the contract. Defaulting to a higher paying job in another country only shows irresponsibility and immaturity and his/her part. If one says that they have studied hard for it and that they deserved to secure a foreign high paying job, then they have forgotten the ones that have helped them to be where they are today. Without financial support, they would not be graduating at all. Some may find my comments harsh considering they have been studying hard at universities and burning the midnight oil, etc. However, that is what they funded to do. To study hard. It is for their own future. No one forced them to sign on the dotted lines of the contracts. Taxes are not only paid by rich people but as well as the lower income grp. How can these PSD scholars have the conscience to default contracts where they were given a chance to study funded by money from Malaysians from all walks of life?

Remember, they are at least 18 year olds when they sign these scholarship agreements. They are young adults. They should take responsibility of their own actions. If they can't live up to it, then it is high time that they grow up and learn!

Jimmy Tham said...

I'm sure many who applied with decent results are not able to get to the interview stage =)

*grin* me for example

shahfudin said...

Greetings,

Thank you for your honest remarks.

SHAHFUDIN

who is fair? said...

What makes you think that Malaysian Medical Association will be seen as fair to perform the interview for medical scholarship applicants?

Goh Wei Liang said...

MMA members can consist of serving professional medical doctors. Need not be those in the MMA committee.

If you cannot trust them to be fair, then perhaps we should be worried where Malaysia is heading.

It seems like no one can trust anyone.

Anonymous said...

Looking at all your other posts, You are the only Chinese Umno member around!

keropok lekor said...

a reflection on the craze for medical education

http://extremeweight.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Anon ,

Whats with this mentality that if what he think or write does not tally with you , allows you condemn him ?

What is the difference between you and the ultra UMNO ?

PR is turning to be like UMNO post-2004 after a big sudden win.

Politician are the same from any side they are

Titan

Anonymous said...

I wrote to mca,gerakan and many other politacal parties before regarding this matter but my suggestion was swept under the carpet.My suggestion was and still is to form a body to be in charge of schorlship and loan for the non malays/non muslims students.The big question is where to get the money from?If you know the muslims are tax exempted for the zakaat they pay every year.I am suggesting that 5% of the tax paid by the nonmalay/non muslims,individual and businesses be channeleed into this body.This money can be used to sponsor the non malay and non muslims students.And we can make a full stop for this problem once and for all.Give it a thought.Before i pen off, what is your take about suggestion by HINDRAF that all people born in Malaysia be given Bumiputera status?Just curious about your piece of mind.