Star Online - Top scorers discover again PSD scholarships are not guaranteed and PSD scholarship review.
Just the usual frustration around this time of the year for some students. So, MCA president Ong Tee Keat claimed he had spoken to the PM and that the Government will review the selection criteria for Public Services Department scholarships.
Whenever I read about the annual fiasco concerning the scholarship awards for deserving students, and invariably the annual but inexplicable outcome in the selection of candidates for medicine, I cannot help but recall one frustrating and rather heartbreaking word – inevitable!
But why should this happen year after year, where somehow only the PM (who has better things to look after) could undo a couple of cases, as a token appeasement to frustrated students and their distressed parents, but never truly sorting out an unmistakably unfair scholarship system and an unfair entrance criteria to universities and certain courses?
A democratic system is not only about elections. It is also about transparency, accountability and justice. If these are missing then the democracy that we acclaim to the world we enjoy is one that is shamefully hollow.
The problem or root cause is that lil’ Napoleons rule the system, and the UMNO-dominated cabinet has been quite happy to leave these pocket dictators to their biased ways ….. well, at least until next year when the PM is again called upon to show us his 'charitable' ways.
The governance of our public systems (including the conduct of our public servants and police), lacks transparency, accountability and justice. It may be seen as a variation of the example of three monkeys – you can't see evil because there is no transparency; you can't hear of evil because there is no accountability, and you can't speak of evil despite injustice because the ISA hangs over your head.
Apart from places and scholarships to universities, another example of non-transparencies has been the selection of public or military officers for promotion, etc. They have been non-transparent because in a number of cases they cannot be justified or have been plain indefensible.
The debacle and consequential public outcry over the selection of university undergraduates for certain degree courses some years ago (and in each succeeding year) was a glaring model of opaque evasiveness.
When the selection criteria were challenged, the people responsible for the selection changed the goalposts, for the unsuccessful candidates.
Silly policies, made on the panicked run, like requiring a medical school applicant to demonstrate that they could tolerate bloody gory, were brazenly proposed by interested parties. The person who first mooted that idiotic criterion of course didn't have to undergo the same ordeal when he was selected to go to medical school.
All had one objective - to retain the non-transparency of the selection process.
When that inane proposal proved to be unworkable, the selection criteria was then amended, with an added obstacle for some university applicants to surmount, if they can - that of the subjective nature of interview assessments.
Next, extracurricular activities were to be an important consideration, perhaps in the hope that brawns would beat those nerdy feeble-muscled top scorers.
But top scorers evolved to match the game, and today we have the so-called nerds who have been active in co-curricular activities, representing their schools at district, state and national levels in sports, etc. So I wonder what new criterion would be introduced next?
Well, most young Malaysians are very conscious of their Malaysian-ness, in spite of obstacles deliberately placed in the path of due and just considerations for them as young Malaysians.
Notwithstanding the youth’s identification of Malaysia as their only home, we are all to well aware that patriotism or loyalty is not a one-way traffic of emotion, though it may run that way for a while, mainly driven by youth, innocence, idealism and naivety, and perhaps prolonged a bit more by hope.
But unless that hope is justified, sure as hell, it’ll slowly fade away, and with it, the malnourished severely battered patriotism. Even Duracell dares not claim an infinite life for any of its batteries.
As for accountability, that word hasn't existed in public governance since the days of PM Tengku Abdul Rahman.
The scholarship scandal is but a small example of what's happening in our country for decades.
The recent Perak DUN shows the shameless partiality of civil servants, lil’ Napoleons who wouldn’t be able to know what’s the role of a civil service in a democracy even if it was shafting them right down their throats. Did anyone for one instant believe they were worried about accountability?
A friend asked me how we have come to this situation? The reasons are plainly and painfully obvious.
Though we know what's happening around us, we find it hard to articulate them into one simple sentence – there are just too many factors like the politically promoted ethnic divide, greed, corruption, selfish leaders, and incumbency of the mediocre, so on, so forth.
All these didn't happen yesterday. They weren't caused by one single person. They didn't arise for any one particular reason. They aren't maintained nor sustained by one sole driving force.
But nonetheless, like a voraciously greedy juggernaut, the Malaysian monster tramples arrogantly and uncaringly forward, unstoppable and not wishing to stop.
The solution is straightforward. Its implementation is more difficult. It requires leadership, statesmanship, foresight, sheer guts (courage), honesty, willpower, perseverance and most of all, decency.
The Malaysian Gordian Knot stands out before our eyes. But we still look desperately for the elusive mythical Iskander.
Maybe Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin can fit the bill?