Thursday, June 09, 2005

JPA's benefit of the doubt

You know that story about those SPM students who didn't get the JPA scholarship? Yeah, you do. Of course you do. How can a kid be a state top scorer....get 13As and still not be given a scholarship? Its a travesty, you scream.

It can't be! Its racist I tell you! We demand that JPA become more transparent in their selection process. We want to know how they choose their scholars! Bastards.....now a bright kid will get sucked up by Singapore and we lose another brilliant mind.

Man, you guys back home scream so loud that even I can hear you from way over here. I mean..a simple matter like a damn song in the cinemas and you guys scream bloody murder. So, for even more sensitive matters like this, the outrage is amplified exponentially.

Do I think it sounds suspicious? Of course.
Is there a possibility of a racial bias here? Anything's possible.
Are JPA a bunch of idiots? Definately.

But the thing with crying foul is that you immediately become biased. You instantly forget everything else, and all reasoning goes down the drain. I've read no less than 3 blogs making references to Sepet :

Orked dapat 5A pun dapat scholarship...


Jason dapat 7A..

Did anybody realise that intellectually, Orked was more astute? Did nobody realise that she talked freely about loads of general topics, while Jason (he reads poetry, I'll give him that) has blonde hair and talks like an AhBeng?

Some of you do know that I volunteer with my scout troop back home when I am on holidays. I deal with 'model students' all the time. Troopleader. Assistant head prefect. Prefects. Top students. But none of them can hold a proper intellectual conversation...

I have an acquaintance who graduated last year with a first class degree. He's still trying to find a job. He's got a beautiful certificate alright, along with a shit load of academic acheivements. But are employers supposed to bend over just because he got a first class and finished among the top of the class?

So, giving the JPA the benefit of the doubt, I only have one question for all of you who created such a din:

Did any one of you consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe those top scorers might have screwed up their interview?


malaysian very clever. they like to see


then they say the guy damn clever. the forget that fella is just full of 'A-s(s)'

(OK that was lame) bleh. but you know lah what i mean.


That's the problem with Malaysian students. They think it's enough to just have A's and A's, but they don't learn OTHER skills outside the classroom.

They screw up interviews, have HUGE grammar mistakes in their request letters, and don't even bloody know how to write a bloody RESUME. And they expect to have everything their way because they spent all their anti-social time at home STUDYING instead of socialising and doing co-couriculum activities.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.


admitting it was the student's fault can be seen as the first step towards admitting that our government is doing a good job running our country.

that is, if you DO admit our government is the best in this world, i have nothing else to say.

frankly though, apart from a few screw-ups, they're really not that bad.


Dear vincent,

Are you being stupid? Or just selectively blind in favour of being rational?

Here is a first hand witness account of something some govt scholarship official said to my friend(s).

"Ala. Kamu cina bapa semua kaya. Boleh send kamu kat luar negeri."

I'll see anyone wriggle out of explaining that.


vincent, if you think top chinese scorers may have done bad in an interview like having 'bad grammar' or lost for words.... what bout the 'others' who gets 3-5 As' and can hardly speak english and spend most of their time watching Senario and smoking. They do well in interviews? What do they have that brilliant chinese and indians dont, or cannot potray?

Of course they are some social failure ones, but like stoolX says, they're really not that bad. Malaysia IS bias in its education system, definitely.


We considered that and more.

Since you think you're so clever go check what Occam's Razor is.

In this case the simplest explanation in the light of fact is that the government did something racist which is what they did last year and they will do next year.

Sorry if this pisses you off, Of course you could try and rationalize it by saying "what if" and "did you consider".

Then again if you want an answer the scientific method is not where to find it.


LOL! Maobi! The "What if" and "Did you", exactly my predictions. Was planning 2 ridicule this entire piece if the reaction was that.

And Occam's Razor. Dang why didn't i think of it. Sums up everythng so nicely doesn't it?



Perhaps I'm biased, but as a holder of a Bachelors degree with First Class Honours, I believe that employers should bend over backwards to give me anything I want. ANYTHING. Hehe. ;)

minishors : Heh...full of As..that something new..

eyeris : Its not just the students who think so. Judging from most people's reaction the general public seem to think that straight A's are an automatic route to success in life.

stoolx : Nobody said that the government is the best in the world. I just think that they are not as bad as what people make them out to be.

metalrage : Go back up and read it again. I said it is of course suspicious. I said its possible that there are racial issues. And of course, I KNOW JPA are idiots.

anonymous : Did you learn 'reading comprehension' in school? Saying that MAYBE those top students were bad in interviews DOES NOT mean that 3-5A students are good in it. Don't be stupid. At least leave a damn name.

maobi : Don't try to hit me with your intellectual crap. I damn well know what it is. The thing is that Occam's Razor oversimplifies things. I do admit, this sounds incredibly fishy and maybe a tad racist. But you still haven't answered my question: Is it possible that maybe they screwed up??


metalrage : You still haven't answered my question.

yuenli : Really? So you could give it to them up the er..rear?


Hi All,
If interviewees (is there really such a word) can screw up, so can interviewers. i can tell you first hand, most of these interviewers r there for some fun, probably those getting the scholarships have been decided much earlier.
What we should call for is transparency. We may and probably will fail to get it this time, but what's the harm to shout this time and try again the next and the next and the next. After all the scholarships are funded ultimately by all of us, you and me and everybody who contribute to the Malaysian IRB!

ALOne and yet not so.


Lone : Of course, interviewers can screw up. I don't doubt that. Transparency? I definately agree. What I do not agree is people crying foul just by looking at one side of the story.

Besides all the arguments, the point is still that our best minds are being ignored and Singapore is reaping the benefits. Straight As might not indicate if a person will suceed in life but it is a good indicator nonetheless. If you live life being told "work hard, study smart and one day the world will be your oyster" and later when you have the grades for the years of toil and sweat, missed leisure times, tuitions etc and gets a slap in the face saying you're not good enough to receive financial help even if your grades show that. I can't live with that. It's like saying a guy in the sales department that can sweet talk the boss will get promoted over the more silent ones who do all the work but never boast about it. It sucks, welcome to reality in Malaysia.

Well many students in Malaysia lack the soft skills required to get ahead. Plain and simple! They can't even have a proper conversation in English without including chinese, malay or indian words. Manglish is one thing, being professional is another. On many occasions, I've personally experienced this before and apart from that, some of this students r stone cold, no expressions nuthin! Just their blur looking face expecting the companies to stand up, clap hands and play the kompang for them just because they got 1st class.

On a separate note, i strongly believe that rich students should not be allowed to get scholarships because they can afford it. Leave it for those who can't! They may deserve it but if you can afford it, let another poor chap get a chance at improving his/her life.


when i saw JPA, i was gonna click the window, thinking this was another rant about how the poor fella didn't manage to secure himself a scholarship. glad i didn't do that.

i dunno bout you, but that guy seemed downright cocky when he told the media that he was a top student and he lunched with the pm etc etc etc. scholarships should not be awarded just because you shared the same table with the pm. it should be awarded, as you said, to intellectuals.

and scholarships should definately not awarded to kiasu beings. i've got friends joining everything, not out of love or passion, but to achieve their sole mission: to collect as many certs as possible.


kervin : Your example about the kiss ass sales man is true, but its not limited to Malaysia, is it? Thats the nature of human beings everywhere in the world. A lot of people with no skills get where they are by just talking.

sachpal : Yes the thing about rich students applying for scholarships from public funds is just wrong. But there are some private scholarships I have heard off that do not distinguish between the rich and the poor, but purely on academic results.

sarah : Yes, I have heard of many people joining Mickey Mouse clubs just to make their CV look nice. Quite unfortunate, really. There was an article in The Star by Marina Mahathir around this time last year. She said that she was on a board requested to do interviews for scholarship applicants. Some of the applicants were presidents of 'bla bla' club. When questioned what their clubs did, some of them could not give a proper answer.


panda has a lot of A's. But she's less intelligent than a piece of eraser ...

I am very happy to see them suffer like that . I looking forward to see more top scorers face the same fate in the future ;/ . Infact , they should have learnt a lesson that getting straight As doesn't mean it can solve everything . The government still doesn't know that we are becoming like Singapore , where their lives depend on a piece of paper . By the way , I notice a title in a school magazine , it was called "Jadilah Ulat Buku" , how ironic is that .

Hmm.. it seems that almost everyone here are in agreement that super academics should not be the sole basis for getting a JPA scholarship.
Some also accuse these straight-A students of being arrogant and thinking that they are entitled to getting a scholarship.
I'm not going to get into the whole race bias thing because I'm tired of whining about it.
I'm a JPA scholar and am very grateful to be giving the scholarship. Was part of the second intake after being rejected.
JPA needs to be more transparent about the selection criteria. What is taken into account? Grades, leadership quality, English proficiency..? Yet, I have coursemates who can barely string two words of English together, skip class everyday, are failing every subject and yet still managed to get a scholarship. Sort of made me wonder why the hell did I work so hard. And let's not go into the rich kids who's parents pick them up in fancy Mercedes and Volvos every weekend.
And FYI, my JPA interview was a complete joke! 10 of us all taking turns to speak on the same topic with the last person unable to finish his say because time was running out. No intelligent questions asked on what we had said. Nothing. It was pretty obvious that the results had been decided before the interview and the whole thing was just a bloody farce! Plus what resume?!! We weren't required to hand in a CV, you know. No chance to sell ourselves whatsoever. Just a very long form with questions about our race, father's race, mother's race, religion..... nothing that spoke of our individuality. So, where's the logic in that I ask you?


Thanks for clarifying. Though it's never been a surprise that the dreaded four letter R-word is constantly at work. One should never go beyond and doubt otherwise.

michael : Yups. I know a lot of people like that.

yungjie : You are evil. I don't wish for people to suffer...But you know...thats a damn good point about us becoming like Singapore.

san : Thanks for clarifying those stuffs. Now, if something like that got out in the press, then I would shutup if people made noise about it.

word : Four letter R word? Dude..its F, not R. Hahaha..


Hi Vincent,

I have been bored in office lately, and I happened to stumble to your blog. Anyway, this comment might be outdated for your post. I'll can't help but post it anyway. :P

IMHO, the original purpose of JPA scholarships was meant for government servants who do not earn enough to give their children a chance to study abroad.

You see rich people ferrying their children during the so called JPA interviews is simply because they retired from serving the government after a few years and then worked for private firms and earn a lot extra money. I know that because the friends I made during my study who were also JPA scholars had parents who were either ex army officers or from the police force.

I trully support the concept of scholarships meaning for bright but poor students. What I mean in poor students is that their parents can barely cover the cost of a local public university which is about 2-4k per year and not even counting food and lodging for the kid. But it seems to me that people now thinks that just because you have great academic results and a great co-curricular activities, you should NEVER be denied of a scholarship from whatever body.


My friend, Jenna Loo had straight A's. 11 A's to be precise. She was also the head prefect of SMK Sri Permata, participated actively in St. John's Ambulance and was a member of my school's English debate team, as was I.

Her screwing up her JPA interviews was highly unlikely. She applied more than once but she didn't get anything. Apparently, taking 11 subjects and getting straight A's for each wasn't enough.


Which is why I said 'possibility' not 'certainty'.

makes me wonder if i stand a chance for my interview this wednesday. Im a straight A scorer myself and do not believe that straight As and my family's lack of income will help me get the scholarship. I do believe that street smart counts as well, not only book smart. But i presume that most scholarship givers are blinded by the As and of course, the race. then again, Im not sure how they pick the scholars because the ones getting picked, some of them, are rich and they have straight A1s but are total ignorants. By that I mean, they don't even know the current issues and believe me, couldn't tell the capital of Peru without looking at the Atlas. Is that what they call smart??

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