Thursday, May 19, 2011

Government must carry out a full probe into the JPA scholarship scandal

May 19, 2011

The month of May is described as the JPA scholarship complaints and appeal season.

This is the time when JPA releases the results of scholarship applications and where there will be public complaints of unfair decisions made by JPA.

Despite government assurances that the scholarships would be awarded fairly, there have been allegations of unfair practices by JPA in the past every year, so much so that this annual phenomenon has been described as the complaint and appeal season.

The major past complaint was that some better qualified students were not awarded overseas scholarships.

The usual explanations given by JPA were that there was keen competition and some students had been unsuccessful due to their interview performance.

But such explanations were never well accepted by the public and the prime minister or Cabinet always had to intervene and solve the complaints by approving more scholarship places.

This year, the situation is more serious and scandalous.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Wee Ka Siong has revealed that government officers who failed to follow Cabinet directives is one of the main reasons why top students failed to get the JPA scholarship awards.

He said that many students who deserved the scholarships did not get the grants, but those who did not deserve them had successfully obtained the financial assistance.

He even described the situation – where qualified students were unsuccessful in their scholarship applications – was the worst this year in all the years when he handled appeals.

Media report also quoted him saying as follows:-

Dr Wee said students who scored full A+ in the SPM examination were not given priority during the selection process, and were only offered open scholarships for government matriculation programmes or vacancies at local universities.

“However, students who obtained poorer results were awarded scholarships to study at universities overseas,” he said.

A student, Chai Sheng Min from SMK St Joseph in Kuching, was present at the press conference held by Wee.

Chia obtained 10A+ in the SPM examination and he said he only got a scholarship to study engineering at Universiti Teknologi Petronas while his friends who got 4A+ and 5A+ were awarded scholarships to do Pure Science in the United States.

When the deputy prime minister announced recently that unlike last year where only 9 A+ students were qualified for JPA scholarships, students with 8+ are also qualified for this year’s JPA scholarships, everyone has understood that the minimum qualifying result is 8A+.

Why then could students with 4 A + and 5 A+ be awarded overseas scholarships? Worse, when better qualified ones were not awarded.

Is this not ridiculous, unfair, unjust and scandalous?

Why are there such unfair and unjust decisions in the award of JPA scholarships?

Why have the officers failed to follow the criteria set by the government? Is it sabotage? Practice of favoritism or corruption?

DAP demands that the government carry out a full probe into the JPA scholarship scandal.

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