Wednesday 1 June 2011

Full review of PSD scholarship scheme

The government has decided to review the entire policy and system of Public Service Department scholarships.

NONEMohd Nazri Abdul Aziz, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said the cabinet will carry out the review later this year, with its decision to be implemented next year.

Keeping the details under wraps, he would only say "the whole thing" will come under review.

Asked why, he said: "This is to avoid future confusion and future expectations. Just wait for the time when we review lah," he told a press conference in the Parliament building today.

The process of awarding PSD scholarships has seldom failed to stir controversy, with hundreds of top flight students claiming not to have received the highly-coveted scholarships despite stellar results in their examinations.

The issue of race also tends to crop up whenever there is unhappiness. This year, the issue was taken a step further by Malay NGOs.

Perkasa has called for a 67 percent of the scholarships to be reserved for bumiputera students, while Umno-linked pressure group Gagasan Anti-Penyelewengan Selangor (Gaps) has demanded that the entire scheme be given only to bumiputera and Malay students.
While Nazri said that there are no problems with the scholarships in general, he said that the government is faced with the question of affordability.

“We have no problem, except that students are getting better and better each year and we can't afford to send them overseas and there will be a lot of those disappointed.

“One day we will have 600 students with 9A+. What do we do then? It's a question of affordability. Top flight students will keep on increasing,” he said.

In last year's SPM, 9,239 students scored straight As in all subjects taken with a combination of A+, A and A-. Three hundred and sixty-three students scored straight super distinctions (only A+) as compared to only 219 back in 2009.

For this year's PSD scholarship, RM1.44 billion have been allocated for 4,000 spots, out of which the bulk goes to the 1,500 overseas places, taking up RM1.08 billion.

Government to sue non-returning PSD scholars

Meanwhile, Nazri - also the de facto law minister - said that Attorney-General's Chambers have been directed to sue the PSD scholars who refused to return to Malaysia in return for the scholarship amount.

However, he said that the money is not the first thing on the government's mind.

university students graduation and study 020805“We don't want the money. We just want them to come back. Every time we sponsor a student to study medicine, let's say in Ireland, we pay over one million ringgit,” he said, adding that most of the non-returning scholars study medicine.

However, he said that he does not have the details of how many scholars did not return nor how many the AG's Chambers have sued.

“But actually that's not what we want, we want them to come back. But they don't come back so we sue them lah,” he said.

Typically, a PSD scholar has a bond to work with the government, with the duration of the bond depending on the amount of scholarship offered.

However, it was reported that many of the scholars did not bother fulfilling their bond, or that the government has been lackadaisical in finding them vacancies in the civil service such that the scholars end up being released from their bond.

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