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Malaysia Can Only Achieve First Class Mentality, Competitiveness And Stop The Brain Drain Not By Opening Up International Schools But Opening Up Government Scholarships And University Places To Top Students.

Media Statement

by Lim Guan Eng

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): DAP can not understand the excessive interest by the Education Ministry in international schools as shown by Private Education Department director Dr Mohamad Nor Mohamad Taib statement today giving them till May 31 to provide information on their maximum capacity, foreign affiliations and rating, revenue, and efforts to market the school abroad.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s announcement on 18 May 2006 that Malaysian students will be allowed to attend the 32 international schools in the country to allow Malaysians to constitute up to 40 % from the present 0.05% of the enrolment of each school to achieve the dual purpose of:-

a)         Stopping the brain drain of several thousand young Malaysians leaving the country every year for primary and secondary education in Singapore, Australia and Britain.; and 

 b)        Promote Malaysia as a regional education hub.

Stopping the brain drain and promoting Malaysia as a regional education hub would only succeed if the country practices meritocracy and discard quotas. DAP fails to see how allowing Malaysians to pay expensive prices to attend international schools can stop the brain drain or make Malaysia a regional education hub when most of them would leave the country upon graduation. Only by opening up government scholarships and university places to the best and brightest can Malaysia achieve first class mentality, competitiveness and stop the brain drain of top talents leaving for foreign countries.

The seriousness of the brain drain can be seen by the tens of thousands of primary and secondary Malaysian students studying in Singapore as well as the large number of Malaysian professionals working in Singapore government hospitals and companies. In fact Singapore government hospitals’ services would collapse without Malaysian doctors. The loss of Malaysian talent is highlighted by the election of 3 former Malaysian citizens as People Action Party’s Singapore Members of Parliament. DAP feels both pride and sorrow as they should be Malaysian MPs and not Singaporean MPs.

Our own efforts to attract top talents have met with dismal failure. The government’s ambitious “brain gain” policy announced by then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamed inn 1995 to attract 5,000 talents annually failed spectacularly.  Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, Datuk Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis in Parliament  said in Parliament on 20 September 2004 that between 1995 and 2000, the “brain gain” scheme attracted 94 scientists, including 24 Malaysians in the fields of pharmacology, medicine, semi-conductor technology and engineering, there is only one left. Even the 23 Malaysians who returned have given up on the discriminatory policies that sacrifices meritocracy and reward mediocrity.

The annual ritual of top students obtaining 12-15 As not getting scholarships or even to study medicine in public universities is a sad reflection of the failure of our education system. At a time when the country is spending RM 40 million yearly to employ 700 foreign doctors, the refusal to allow the country’s best and brightest to study medicine is incomprehensible, illogical and irresponsible. Apart from saving RM 40 million in foreign exchange, such discriminatory policies have caused a serious brain drain.

The the recent release of statistics by Datuk Dr Abdullah Mat Zin, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in Parliament early this month published in Sin Chew Jit Pohm shows that 80% of foreign scholarships and 70% of local scholarship are granted to bumis. By giving a specific quota on bumiputera and non-bumiputera receipients of Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA) scholarships, MCA, Gerakan and BN are lying when they say that there is no more quotas now. .

Overseas Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA) Scholarships From 2000-2005

Local Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA) Scholarships From 2000-2005

The total number of both overseas and local scholarships show that nearly 80% are granted to bumis and explains why MCA and Gerakan’s support for BN’s unfair policies has resulted in our best students losing out on their right to realize their full potential. How then can MCA and Gerakan talk of political equality and socio-economic justice and our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi achieve first class mentality with such short-sighted policies?


* Lim Guan Eng,  DAP Secretary General

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