Saturday, September 02, 2006

Tertiary Scholarship - only teaser for some?

I am not an economist so I’ll just look at the budget from a layperson’s point of view – starting with one small but significant observation in this posting.

I like the award of scholarships for tertiary education to students with 10A1s in SPM from families earning RM 1,500 and below. This policy is good but being sceptical KTemoc, I wait to see its implementation. The problem with Malaysia has always been the ‘implementation’. You get some over-zealous officials who put his bigoted interpretations on the official policy, and it’s then more of the same of what we have already seen.

Hopefully this should in some manner ameliorate the marginalisation of the poorer Indians. But to obtain such a scholarship, the 10A1s have to be achieved. Now that’s where the so-called Indian champion, Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), needs to put some effort into this area.

Unless the poor Indian students are supported in their studies, there won't be 10A1s achievers and the scholarship will remain out of reach and thus meaningless for them, a tantalising teaser and a source of more acute frustration.

But I reckon the Indian community shouldn’t just depend on MIC. Do so at your own peril. Probably the best organisation for elevating the educational position of the poor Indian community would be, strangely enough for KTemoc to say so, the Gerakan Party.

Much as I detest one particular UMNO lapdog who ruined my home town, I believe the Gerakan Party with its programme for the proposed ‘Open University’ may already have the infrastructure and resources (policy makers, plans, programmes, etc) to extend them into educational assistance for the children of poor Indians, and of course other communities.

The MCA is also capable but it’s basically a Chinese based party, so that more or less rules it out, though not completely. It still can help but let us face facts. We should expect the MCA to concentrate mainly if not totally on the Chinese community, just as we expect UMNO to look after the Malays.

DAP? It doesn’t have the resources nor the infrastructure to conduct a nationwide programme. I am not sure what it can offer, other than advice.

PKR? ;-) Much as I respect Dr Syed Husin Ali, the PKR has been nothing more than a one-issue party, stemming from its KeADILan origin. In what may appear to the cruellest irony (or jilting), many have always suspected the 'one-issue' has his eyes instead on somewhere else. But I digress - let's get back on our topic.

PAS? This may be a golden opportunity for the Islamic Party to demonstrate its example of Islamic compassion and social bent by helping non-Muslim Indians or other non-Muslim communities.

That’s how Hamas and Hezbollah became popular with the common people, through their socialist welfare programmes, though of course the two Arab Islamic parties did it within their Arab (and mainly Muslim) communities.

Unlike those of Hamas and Hezbollah, PAS’ (national) backyard has large non-Muslim and non-Malay communities, but that’s who will be casting their votes come general election time. If PAS aspires to be a serious contender to the BN in coming general elections, it cannot just depend on the Muslims voters alone. It has to woo the non-Muslims but not merely by words. People can't live on those. Besides those marginalised already have a belly-ache-ful of empty promises.

Help the marginalised non-Muslims. That’s what it has to do, to win the affections of the non-Muslims, and mind you, not only of those directly assisted, but also of those who will witness who has been the good compassionate samaritan.

Will it take up the challenge, or pretend that the issue of marginalised non-Muslim Indians is not its area of interest?

Expecting the MIC to be the one alone to assist the poor Indian community would be akin to consigning those Indians to the Twilight Zone.

But, finally and most importantly, there is the government of Malaysia. I would have like to see the budget allocate funding for some special programmes for the poor communities, where additional classes and equipment (eg. science and computer labs, libraries, etc) be made available for the children of, say, rubber tappers or labourers or those in remote areas. The tax relief for computers, books, etc, while good, would not be enjoyed by this very poor group.

As I said in 49th Merdeka:

What a day!
Enjoy, rejoice
Be safe out there

Look to the left
at your neighbours
Go, hold their hands

Look to the right
It's the forgotten
Help pick them up

Look right around
at those left behind
Do take them along

What a day!
Enjoy, rejoice,
Best if together

Yes, go hold their hands, pick them up and take them along.

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