Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Driven Out Because of Education Policy

I refer to the letters Why bother waking up at 3am to study? and A daughter devastated, a mother with no answers.

I read with great sadness the above letters by ‘Disappointed Student’ and ‘A School Teacher’. I can totally associate myself with the feelings that they're going through because I myself was a victim like them.

I was educated in one of the better-known government schools in Petaling Jaya. I had a ball of a time being a student there ie, being active in extracurricular activities etc. I had a Malay lady teaching me Moral Studies and my classmates and I were told that in exchange for citizenship, we should be loyal to King and country which was something that made sense. However, it is apparent that the country doesn't really care for the loyalty that so many other Malaysians and I have shown.

Back then, it was not popular for students to attempt more than nine subjects. Hence, I only took nine subjects for which I scored all straight A1s (as it was known back then). I distinctly remember the joy that I felt when I received my results knowing that it will improve my chances of getting a scholarship. During and after Form 5, my less fortunate friends and I were frantically sending our CVs to every known institution that offered scholarships for the course we wanted to study. We were tortured by the anxious wait of replies with sleepless nights and fears of rejection.

Alas, the sum of all my fears were confirmed when all of the institutions had given their reply of rejection. Until today, reading a letter that starts with ‘I am sorry to inform you that...’ still sends a shiver up my spine. However, my friends who happen to be bumiputera got the courses which they applied for under government and GLC scholarships despite the fact that they did not do as well as my friends and I. But yet they got it. This kind of situation only promotes animosity between the races and it is the Malaysian government that should be blamed for promoting open discrimination.

Just recently, I met a bumi classmate of mine back in secondary school who was awarded a scholarship for medicine. He told me that he was sent to the UK to study medicine but couldn't make the cut in the first year. He repeated that year and failed again. He then switched his degree to geology and it was still under a government scholarship! How ridiculous is that?

Now, the natural option for non-bumi students who could not afford to attend private institutions of higher learning after SPM is the STPM. I was too disappointed and disheartened to study for the exams. My morale back then was at an all-time low. I neglected my studies and did not attend almost half the classes. For obvious reasons, I barely passed the STPM examination and that gravely hurt my chances of getting even into local universities. Instead of going to classes, I worked in a car repair shop becoming a grease monkey.

There, I got to know that many of my colleagues were school drop-outs. Now, these former colleagues of mine were extremely good in what they do. When I queried them about the reason they dropped out, the consistent answer among them was that they had no interest while in school. They were cast to the 'kelas terakhir' where there was an automatic stigma of laziness and incompetence attached to them. I believe that the system has neglected them and their skills are talent are not properly groomed.

After two-and-a-half years as a grease monkey, I managed to accumulate enough money to enroll myself at a local institution for a diploma in mechanical engineering. I did this upon the encouragement of my parents and my boss at the workshop. It was when I completed the diploma that I spotted an advertisement in the newspaper about job opportunities in the airline industry in a neighbouring country. I tried my luck, got called for the interview, got accepted, and was trained in Australia.

Today, I am grateful to my adopted home for the opportunities given to me. I wasn't surprised to know that most employees in this particular company are either ex-Malaysians or going to be ex-Malaysians. This is despite the fact that this company is one of the star symbols of Malaysia's neighbouring country. I've been told by my senior colleagues that in order to move up the management ladder in company, it is better to give up my status as a Malaysian and get the citizenship of my adopted home.

I am currently undergoing courses to take up this neighbouring country's citizenship. I know very well that once I've given my Malaysian citizenship up, there is no way to get it back again. The fact that Malaysia is obsessed with proportionate racial representation in every aspect of life i.e. they medical profession should be made up of 70% bumis because Malaysia has 70% bumis makes me sick. This has done nothing but to hurt Malaysia's progress.

After 50 years of independence, Umno still doubts the sincerity of the non-bumis in helping Malaysia as a whole. The institutional racial politics that divide Malaysia today are doing nothing but hurting the young minds in Malaysia. I would like to advise ‘Disappointed Student’ and ‘A School Teacher’ to look for opportunities in this neighbouring country or beyond. I know that a country with a first-class mentality will definitely not let someone as talented as you go.

By Allan Lee Hong Chye

I can sense that the first sentence in the last paragraph was written with total sadness as I felt it too.
Tags: SPM, STPM, Racial Politics, Umno, GLC Scholarship, Ex-Malaysian



Blogger QuaChee said...

reading of a straight As student being like that really is heart aching.

act, tho i didnt score as well in spm like him (nearly as good), but i took it differently and did better in stpm. in there, i got a place in um (tho i didnt take up).

to me, it is something known, and i didnt want to focus on the negativity. so to me, there were always 2 ways to look at things. yes, we may spend a year extra, but we know we will excel eventually :)

anyway, allan is now doing well and that is good news. on other countries supporting msians - i agree that its a good avenue for the rakyat too. like the pepatah melayu, the ants will go where there is sugar :)

30 April, 2008 17:41  
Blogger EliteVillain said...

hey face it at least this is not sending condolence just sympathy not that bad ^^ they need to learn stress-management....Johnny ever think of creating a stress-management article that REALLY works? i got think of it but...hehe don't want to mention it >_<

30 April, 2008 18:11  
Blogger mylou said...

thanks for sharing this, though am not malaysian I learned something here.

01 May, 2008 21:03  
Anonymous novice101 said...

It's with hearts laden with anger, frustration, anguish, sadness and a little hope of possible change that many non-Malay Malaysians went to the polls on 8th. March.

What brought about this mixed bag of feelings, which was largely negative, was the feeling of humiliation of not being accepted as citizens with equal rights in one country of birth.

We felt sad and were filled with anxiety for the ones we have brought into this world. We hope things would change for our future generations. It was also with this little ray of hope in our hearts that we went to cast our votes on that day.

What we hope to accomplish that day is to see our basic citizen rights restored. We want to see the negative feelings in our hearts removed. What's we desire more is to see the hearts of our descendants filled with contentment, happiness and harmony.

Will this be a reality in our society depends largely on whether those who are out to establish the Malay supremacy at all cost, are prepared to empathise with us. The nation has enough resources for everyone under the Malaysian sky, do our children still have to look yonder for their fulfillment.

02 May, 2008 11:23  
Blogger Huei said...

that letter should've arouse before the election!! hehe's damn sad to know of such happenings in our very own cunt-tree. it's damn sad to hear people saying that they are proud of their country, because it's not something i can say with confidence..hope there will be changes for the better..hope there will be equality!

can't wait for the next election! this time..i'm ready! lol =)

02 May, 2008 15:48  
Anonymous novice101 said...

A nation abused.!

Can Malaysia be a Utopia or be something near about? What if these conditions are present in our society?

All our children are given education from primary up to the tertiary level. All get to study for the courses they they prefer. After graduation, all can find jobs and from there on, their advancement depend on their own capabliities and their own efforts.

The parents can be assured their children get the best chance. The old guys need not worry that the children will be separeted from them in their sunset years. They need not have to worry being torn apart from their friends, families and from things familar. They need not worry having to start all over again in a foreign land.

As a nation, Malaysia keeps the money that would otherwise be sent overseas as education fees. Malaysia also gets to keep all the talents that would otherwise be lost to foreign lands. The benefits from this alone are uncalculable.

Countless families can be together creating a happy and harmonious atmosphere for many old couples.

Would not this remove countless years of worries for countless families. It would also remove hours and hours of pain. Tons, and tons of tears need not be shed in painful separation. Old folks need not spend long lonely hours on their own.

All this makes alot of sense. A large number of people would want to do a part to bring these about. This is definitely a possibility. All politicians would also agree, as they , too, are human beings. It is only, when they start playing politics, that complications come in. Then, the possibles become the impossibles. How sad!

03 May, 2008 21:08  
Anonymous 3POINT8 said...

Its pretty ironic how this is happening in a country where people mainly judge you by the education you have.

07 May, 2008 17:09  
Blogger Johnny Ong said...

quachee - yes, i agree that if things don't go according to plan, we may need to find alternatives fast instead of crying over spilt milk

elite - stress mgmt? lots of it in my blog .... just type 'stress' to search for it

mylou - that's my country which is still quite backwards in this area

novice101 - too bad its still happening. we can only hope that msian citizens will continue to fight for their rights

huei - if such things are not resolved, it will just have a compounding effect again

3.8 - not the right way to judge also

28 May, 2008 21:02  
Anonymous Kevin said...

The situation in Malaysia is such that it benefits only non-egalitarians who are obviously biased. It is the system of providing help to the privilege that will cause their downfall eventually.

On the contrary, people like you and I, and many others, who have to learn things the hard way through numerous heartbreaking episodes, would triumph eventually.

Be happy that you've triumphed. You're better off now.

06 October, 2008 10:30  
Blogger Johnny Ong said...

kevin - thks to those challenges that came along in my life, learnt a lot, suffered in the process but came out stronger indeed

06 October, 2008 11:11  

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