Friday, July 18, 2008

Efficiency in Allocating Resources (of scholarships and NEP provisions)

Parliament is actively debating the allocation of scholarships with respect to racial composition in the country. The scholarships would allow students to further their studies to possibly the university of their choice or with similar credentials. The current allocation is 55% for Bumiputra and 45% for nons. According to YB Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian), the latest statistical data indicates the population of Bumiputra at 66%, therefore the allocation of scholarship should reflect the racial composition.

This is a highly sensitive subject, therefore requires much discussion and debate (contrary to what people in general think that the more sensitive it is, the less we should talk about it). Having said that, I'm walking on thin ice and trying to use the best of terms and words to describe and relay my opinion on this subject matter. The NEP/NDP has always been well-intended (to eliminate identification of race by economic function). It is also a well-thought plan to elevate the Malays to high economic stature. However, the by-product of NED/NDP could be the further polarization in this country because of the poor implementation and leakages.
  • The common argument is that the Malays in the rural area are not ready to compete, therefore require aid to compete in the 'open' market context. I totally agree with this (but it shouldn't sacrifice the need to attract the brightest and smartest).
  • UMNO leaders will continue to fight for the allocation for the Malays as they are their power base, likewise the other parties.
  • As long as we have fragmented education system starting from primary level, the segregation and polarization would continue to get worse and it would be more apparent at tertiary level.
  • Universities need to be ran by professionals without 'political obligations'. Universities should also be ran like a business. Harvard attracts an endowment fund of close to US27B because it's being run like a business. I'm not saying we can be like Harvard in 5 years, I'm just saying we have to head in that direction. Down South has a better rated university than us because it's ran like a business. It is a business. It's one of the biggest revenue for the US after arms, entertainment and technology.
  • On scholarships: Contractual agreements must be reviewed to ensure that our students return home and serve the country, be it private or public sector. A small percentage of scholars (including non-Bumi) must be groomed to enter the public sector, be it GLC or into the government as PTD officers. Have them sign a contract for at least 7 years.
  • Students who fail to maintain scholastic achievements must repay the full amount of the scholarship and sent back home. The effort in collecting debt from unpaid student loans must be doubled. Those who violate this must be sued and be made example.
  • A small percentage must be allocated for the 'elite' students, those who have a high chance of gaining entry into Ivy League or Ivy-League equivalent schools, the Oxfords of the world, Imperial etc. THESE are the ones we need to take care of. This should be merit-based regardless of family background. These students should be lined up for the next CEOs and senior managements of GLC, govt, banking institutions, multinationals, universities (need to encourage the teaching profession by increasing pay grade for those who deserve), etc.
  • What I'm interested to know is how much the scholarship covers and what is the actual budget. I don't think everyone needs to get really excited about this since other corporate entities offer scholarships as well. If the other non-Malays think Petronas and such are too biased and award scholarships to only Malays, let's get the big Chinese conglomerates to fly Malay students to MIT, then we'll talk.
  • Judging from my personal recruitment experience of local graduates, our local products are still mediocre. Little confidence level, poor command of English. It is consistent with feedback from other oil companies. There needs to be a balance between adhering to the quota and getting the best and brightest.

1 comment:

bats said...

excellent post and solid suggestions.

you've touched on the key to the success of these scholarship programs, and that's ensuring the outlay is met with good returns down the road.

my opinon, there must be some responsibility on the part of the higher education ministry to ensure that at the very least, every malaysian child that is a high achiever is catered for one way or the other, regardless of race or religion. either a scholarship or a place in a local uni with assistance from PTPTN (which is a bloody great effort, by the way).

if we allow the good ones to slip through the cracks, then we'll have the inmates running the asylum. not good.

unless that last suggestion can be implemented with fair success, politicians cannot whine about the brain drain.

you reap what you sow, especially when it comes to racial integration and loyalty to the nation.