I AM an SPM 2007 school leaver and it grieves me that having achieved 10A1s has got me nowhere in my homeland.
I was rejected by the Public Services Department (PSD), Public Institutes of Higher Learning (IPTA) and matriculation programmes, while Petronas, Bank Negara and the Telekom Malaysia Foundation did not even call me for an interview – all of which has started me wondering if we can really make a difference through education.
To put myself in the best position, I went all out in taking part in co-curricular activities. I represented my school in the national level Robotic Carnival 2007 and won the third prize in the national level Mathematics Carnival in 2006. I was a prefect in school, sub-editor on the school editorial board, homeroom president and Mandarin Club treasurer. In terms of community involvement, I was a student reporter at the Sin Chew Daily.
My parents are government servants nearing retirement age. My father, tormented by renal failure, continues to work for a meagre income, for this income sustains his medical bills, for this income keeps my siblings in school. It wrenches my heart to learn that I am anything but an extra burden. It saddens me deeply, for the price my father pays – his deteriorating health – is too dear for us to bear.
Two years ago, I took up the challenge of studying at Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM). The stay instilled in me tolerance, people skills and the importance of cherishing differences. After the pain of living far away from home and rising every time I fell, I arrived at my latest achievement – the Best Student award.
I saw hope on my reflection in the shimmering trophy, and now, it grieves me to find that I have nowhere to go. Besides, another non-bumiputra friend – the Best Student from another MRSM, having achieved a CGPA of 4.0 in three semesters out of four – and who is outspoken and active in co-curricular activities, was also denied by the PSD, IPTA, Petronas etc.
It kills me when my friends came to seek my opinion on whether to go for IPTA, matriculation or Mara (they have multiple choices). Being non-bumiputras, we are not entitled to any Mara-related scholarship. Yet, the PSD still has a quota (only 20%) for non-bumiputras, which is not commensurate with the ratio of the Malaysian population.
Out of 2000 PSD scholarships, only roughly 400 is for non-bumiputras. Please bear in mind that Mara offers various other scholarships, with many benefiting through the SPC (skim pelajar cemerlang) programme that uses trial exam results – which only bumiputras are entitled to – and others through SPM result. All Malaysians are the backbone of this land, so why distinguish bumiputras from non-bumiputras?
My faith diminishes with time.
I don’t understand why after the years at MRSM, and being financially needy, active in co-curricular activities and excelling academically, I still need to seek clarification on why I am still lacking. I have seen people with combined household incomes of RM15,000 getting scholarships. This only makes the rich richer, while the poor stumble at the financial barrier.
MRSM makes no difference for the non-bumiputra. Will I ever see a colour-blind society in my lifetime? Please don’t punish me because of my skin colour, this is where I live and this is where my loyalties lie.
Tan Jun Yen