Wednesday, June 16, 2010

JPA Scholarships?


Just from the title of this post, I think many readers will know what I would be talking about.

I talked about my ignorance in how the money in Malaysia had been spent and now, after announcing the reduction/withdrawal of subsidies, another announcement was made.

Few days back, I'm pretty sure it was on Monday, I heard of the news that JPA will no longer sponsor students doing first degree overseas. And I was totally shocked. As a JPA-sponsored student myself, I'm fully aware of the benefits not only me, but my whole family is getting from the scholarship. I can't imagine how hard my parents will have to suffer to work to put me where I am studying now, if it wasn't for the sponsorship by JPA. And I am also aware of the neck-to-neck competition I went through before securing myself this scholarship. And I really hope my siblings will get a chance to secure themselves a scholarship too.

And now, JPA is going to PHASE OUT the scholarships.
According to the New Straits Time (June 14th 2010), the government will be phasing out the scholarship and offer more scholarships for courses in local universities. Click here for news from The Star.

However, the minister mentioned that undergraduate students who secured a place in top foreign universities such as Oxford or Cambridge may apply for the scholarships. And there will also be scholarships for postgraduate studies.

Funny, there were not enough scholarships so, reduce the scholarships instead of increasing them?

The minister also said that by cutting off the burden of funding undergraduates overseas, the country will have more money to fund students locally. And he said it's impossible to increase the number of scholarships as we do not have enough money. The amount of scholarships offered currently is 1,500. 300 are allocated for the Perdana scholarships. That left only 1,200 places. Only 1,200 places for more than 15, 000 applicants. (Source: NST and The Star). And that has NOT INCLUDED the "back door" people. There are bound to be people using "cables" and "contacts" to get themselves scholarships no matter how "transparent" JPA tried to claim to be. If not, explain how come some of the JPA scholarship receivers are from very rich families? I thought the scholarships are supposed to be only for mid to low-income families?

On June 15th (one day after the deadly announcement),
1) MIC and MCA urged JPA to retain the scholarships (source: The Star)

2) JPA emphasised that reducing the scholarships will not bring bad effects to the country, instead it will help the development of local universities. (source: NST, Utusan

3) UMNO Youth urged the government to revise the move to drop the scholarships offered for students. Source: Utusan.

As for now, 56% of the scholarships under the race quota are allocated for bumiputeras while 44% are for non-bumis (source: NST).

I believe that there are at least 3 most important components in building a good country; the army, the leaders and the people.

Other than occasional news about Malaysia buying new submarines or training our soldiers, I am not sure how good our defense is. Seriously, I don't know and I better not comment on it. But if it really is outstanding, why not send some for the Gazans. Heh =p.

The leaders; okay let's not talk about them. Some of them really are trying to help the people, congrats. But some of them are busier attacking their colleagues than taking care of their own responsibilities, thank you.

The people.
Although education is not the only way to success, but one can never deny the importance of education, at least to most of the people. Thus, by depriving the people from the chance of studying overseas, won't it not hasten the development and progress of our country?

Ok fine. Some might argue that studying overseas and in local universities do not bring much difference. Even the minister asked why are we doubting the quality of our local universities?

Well, in my year (2007), there were 1,800 scholarships being offered, and of that 80% are for science-based courses. Of this, 50% are for medicine. (Source: The Star) Ok, let me do the calculation, 720 places out of 1,800 places are for medical course. And 200 medical students in a single batch is considered A LOT, believe me. Doctors are not supposed to be produced like water bottles. There should be a quantity limit to a class. Thus, with this 720 new medical students per year, with 7 local national universities offering medical course (UM, UKM, UPM, UIAM, USM, UMS/Unimas and USIM) PLUS the numbers of students not receiving the JPA scholarship but doing medicine, does our country really have the capacity to accommodate us?

In an article entitled "Mushrooming Medical Schools Pose Concern" published in Malaysian Medical Resources (, the quality of local medical graduates are questionable. So, this small country of ours actually STILL DO NOT HAVE THE CAPACITY to produce good doctors in huge amount, which was the reason medical students being sent overseas in the first place. I know the article did not suggest sending students overseas but, to develop our country, won't we need to do the best we can first? And that certainly is not by producing medical students like mushrooms. Undoubtedly, numbers of students interested in doing medicine will never decrease as years pass, thus there will never be shortage of medical students enrolling in med schools. And where there is demand, there will be supply. What need to be concerned off are the quality of "these supplies" that are created when there is excessive demands.

(I'm talking based on experience and I'm also giving medical course as an example because I'm in it. I do not know how the situation is in other courses)

Apart from that, do you really think there is no difference between a local and overseas graduate? An overseas (or at least JPA students) graduates were sent out there to live on their own with friends, facing all the challenges and exposures by themselves. And that made them a different person compared to what they were initially. Not to say local graduates are not exposed but, accept the fact, the exposures ARE different. Hence, Malaysia will not have only "one type" of people; those who graduate locally. With students graduating overseas, Malaysia will have a pool of variety professionals, and is that a bad thing?

And do you know that many people are amazed that Malaysia actually provides scholarships for the outstanding students to study abroad?
Isn't that giving Malaysia a better image?
Some of the people I know, from less developed countries were very much amused and "jealous" that Malaysia can afford to send us overseas.
And the government want to take that back?
I thought we are always working 24-7 to make sure Malaysia has good image?

With the growing number of population, isn't it just logic that the resource is expanding, and the numbers of scholarships available increasing?

How come we have not enough money left to fund deserving students?

Where had all the money been spent to?
The publicity of 1Malaysia?
The diplomatic visits all around the world by our leaders?
The feasts, dinners and festivals?
The luxury of "some people"?
And all that were done on the expense of scholarships of students?

I wonder where do all these ministers sent their kids to?
Local universities or overseas?

I'm asking. Just some questions. Full stop.

To not receive any complaints from the public on being "left out" or being "done injustice to" is impossible. But, to cancel off the scholarships because you can't satisfy everyone?
It's like killing all the chickens in the barn just because one or two of the chickens died of hunger.

In case I have not made my point clear, I totally disagree with the move of phasing out the scholarships.

We still need that.

For further readings:
Some of the blog posts by Dr Mahathir on the money of Malaysia:
1) Malaysia's Generosity on April 29, 2010
2) Not So Generous? on May 3rd, 2010

Zainul Arifin in his article in the New Straits Time on June 16, 2010 agrees with the move that the overseas scholarship shall be reduced. To read his opinions, click here.

p/s: I spent a very long time writing this post, when I should actually read on Lung Cancer. This news had been bothering me ever since it was announced.
And I hope the government will do the correct decision and change the announcement for the benefit of all people.

And JPA stands for Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam or Public Service Department (PSD) in English.


Wednesday 16th June 2010


  1. ah akmar,i read about this too the other day and again today.the government decided to still give out scholarship for professional and critical science courses like medicine, archi etc.

    this is also to help our country from bankruptcy. i'm sure all of us tak nak Malaysia jadi cam EU yg suffer economically utk bail out n byr hutang greece,or indonesia who once borrowed money from the world's bank and end up macam indonesia yg kita nmpk skarang.economy malaysia dah hmpr thp kritikal coz of hutang negara yg hmpir separuh or dah lebih separuh (i forgot)berbanding income n money flow dlm negara.

    and i personally think, lebih baik suffer sekarang drp suffer teruk kemudian hari .contoh terdekat of course, indonesia (sorry but it's true!)

    sorry,ayat mcm tunggang langgang.mamai2 tp nk comment jugak

  2. Actually, In a way, I support this. There is no need to send students overseas for study. Look at it from this point of view: Most American, Canadian, Australian, French and British students etc. stay and study in their own country. for the most past, they don't go overseas. For most first degrees, there is very little need. Such first degrees can be done here. Why throw all that money into foreign countries.

    As for medicine, well perhaps there is an argument that overseas medical training is quite beneficial, but the costs are ghastly! About RM 1,ooo,ooo via IMU I believe.

    There will still be JPA students? I'm sure there will be. If JPA do "phase out" scholarships, I think that just that just means the scholarships to go overseas, rather than a total phase out of ALL JPA scholarships – I think you point that out.

    (a) I think it's far better, IF NECESSARY, to bring foreign Lecturers over here. It might work out chearper – sorry I don’t know the numbers. (but actually, I don't think even that is necessary. There are capable lecturers here).

    (b) I'd like to see that JPA money circulated in the education system in Malaysia rather than abroad.

    BUT, the latter bit of point (a) and (b) needs to be met with a pretty significant change to the way Universities work. For example, domestic lecturers MUST grade students on merit only. Frankly speaking, I think that will require a HUGE change - Remember 'Nor'? She lost her job because she graded the students on merit.

    The facilities within Msia probably need an upgrade too.

    We also should change education to get away from it becoming a conveyor belt for the “money making” corporate market which is using an ever worsening system of phoney economics. The corporatisation of Education is a hindrance to education IMHO. And what social function there is within the Msian education system seems chained to operates within the same phoney economic system. I'd like to see the Universities become places where people are genuinely encouraged to think and assess the world today as well as how to improve it, not just operate within the globalist corporate network. Environmentally friendly Land management with an eye to food production is growing exponentially in importance as the global hydrocarbon fuel starts to run out. Solar, thermal, even rain and other renewable energy sources including urban planning is very important as of course is health. But that's not going to happen. "Business is best" commanded by the private sector seems to be the favourite prevailing paradigm.

    It is often said the Education sector is the powerhouse of national development. As I've already suggested, this is partially true only; Rather “development” (which I dispute) is too heavily influenced by foreign investment, foreign companies (and even domestic) companies that simply use workers as ways to run their operations that drives economic development via the illusory economy, but still, making cuts in education will have a terrible consequence on development in the near future. This is an important characteristic of Globalization.

  3. You are right about the scholarships. They SHOULD be for the families that would struggle or simply not be able to afford to send their capable children to University. The poor (who are getting poorer and more removed from society) should be given more help,, not less, although PM Najib has assured in the 10th Msian plan supplement of the Star, that the poor won’t be left behind. {In almost ALL countries around the world they have!}

    If Msia is anything like the US and countries in Europe, then it is in DEEP financial trouble. The fraudulent economic system - the dirt under the carpet, can no longer be swept under the carpet. Eventually, it's gonna be payback day. Given Msia's historical trading partner the US is in a critical economic situation and Singapore is also struggling and that China and increasingly India can make goods for next to nothing above material and logistics costs, it's easy to see Msia is going to hit troubled water.

    All these troubling factors is why the price of Gold is at a massive $1230 USD per oz (about 30 something grams), or about RM125 +/- per gram!, and its likely to go higher. Global food prices are going up and up too. Not because there isn’t any food – the world is abundant in food, but due to speculators on Wall St, or the LSE and political factors.

    "I am not sure how good our defence is." Interestingly, last week I saw what I'm convinced was an in-air refuelling exercise. This suggests to me that Western forces were involved. Who then does Malaysia have to defend itself against (think about it!) In Penang about five years back I say what looked like British Ared forces driving around. Just what they were doing I have no idea but I got the impression they seemed quite 'at home'

    Buying hi-tec arms is a mugs game, not least a total waste of time. Big countries like nothing more than when they sell their expensive military equipment to small countries, then do to same to other surrounding countries and come back to the original country and then try and sell them better equipment. The arms manufacturers in these big countries positively love war (as do some of their politicians who have financial interests in weapons companies - errrm which they call "defence" companies!)

    I think Venezuela and Switzerland have a good policy. The army will be the general population. A Civil defence force.

    "And do you know that many people are amazed that Malaysia actually provides scholarships for the outstanding students to study abroad?
    Isn't that giving Malaysia a better image?"
    Image is utterly silly and totally useless. No person from overseas would look down on Msia saying "Oh, Malaysia is a bad country because its government doesn't send students overseas. That liar Barack Obama said "You can put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig" I'm not calling Msia a pig, heaven no, but applying some cosmetic sheen on smething doesn't change what it is.

    As for where's the money gone, if it has actually gone at all, well many people will have their own ideas about that, but one significant factor that I've alluded to above is the depreciation in value of money is an unavoidable consequence of the terrible economy that we have allowed to grasp us by the throat. It's a worldwide phenomenon.

    My regards to Tareq by the way ;)


  4. Hahah...
    I guessed I'll be getting responses for this one, though didn't quite expect it to be this "heavy".

    Erm, as for doing first degree in Malaysia, yes I agree that most of them can be done just locally. No point of sending money out of the country for that.
    But what about the voices saying the qualities of some graduates (say, Medic) are questionable?

    As for the financial status in Malaysia, I really really do not know the exact situation. The last I heard was someone predicting bankruptcy in (was it few yrs time?).

    And if that's gonna be true, then Malaysia is in DEEP trouble, I wonder how local universities are supposed to blossom and improve in that kind of situation.

    As I've pointed out, I have no idea about where the money has been spent to. But surely there are some other budgets to be cut on rather than the budget on education?

    Yes, the cost to sponsor one medic student for 5 year training out there used to be RM1mil. That was why now JPA is only giving out twinning programs; to cut cost.

    Tarek is still fighting his way to justice. =)

  5. first of all, what a great analysis! ( considering awak nak exm x lama lg) ^_^

    tentang quality graduan medical, yang mana lebih baik, local or oversea grad; pd sy if seseorang tu dari local uni, dia akan cakap local uni lebih bagus ( like my uncle yang oppose my desicion untuk read medicine oversea, after IMU days).
    yang grad oversea, akan kata their choice lebih baik

    in my opinion, ape2 pun policy yang goverment buat, hopefully akan dibuat bukan for the sake of doing things. sebab, kesannya pada orang kebanyakan. anak2 diorang semuanya dihantar ke overseakan untuk belajar?

    mungkin kuasa berada di tangan orang yang salah, menyebabkan outcomes yang kita tgk very unfair?