The following article is by Mr Koon Yew Yin and appeared in The Malaysian Insider July 11, 2009.
Koon Yew Yin is a 76-year-old chartered civil engineer and was one of the founders of IJM Corp Bhd. He was also secretary-general of Master Builders Malaysia for nine years and a member of the Board of Engineers Malaysia and Sirim. Now he is proclaimed to be fully retired. And there is even a scholarship for higher education students setup under his name Koon Yew Yin Scholarship.
It is my opinion that all Malaysians should read what he has to say. And knowing (purportedly) blog readers, long articles turn them off. I am splitting his article into 6 parts and hopefully you can and will take the time to read them all.
JULY 11 – There is a boy I know who scored 10 A1s. His mother is a primary school teacher and Andrew has two younger brothers. His father, a civil servant, had already passed on by the time the son sat SPM in 2006.
Armed with his excellent result, Andrew applied for a scholarship to study mechanical engineering. The government rejected his application. Petronas rejected his application too. Can you imagine how disappointed and frustrated he was?
As soon as I learned of Andrew’s difficulty, I offered him financial assistance to do accountancy in Utar. He has been scoring top marks in every exam to earn a scholarship from the university. Although Andrew is now exempted from paying fees, I still bank him RM400 a month to cover cost of living.
I have given assistance and allowances to more than 40 poor students to study in Utar in Kampar, Perak. Andrew is typical of their calibre; he prefers to get what is his due on merit, and his university has seen fit to waive his fees.
On my part, I expect nothing from those that I’ve supported except for them in future to help young people in similar circumstances, and to hope that they will all stay back in Malaysia so that they can lend their talents to building up our nation.
There are others with deeper pockets who have extended a helping hand to our youngsters. One of them offers the cost of school and exam fees, hostel accommodation, RM5,800 a year for expenses, RM1,200 settling-in allowance, and transport/air ticket. Furthermore, the recipient is not bonded. In other words, the giver asks for nothing back.
I’m talking about the pre-university Asean scholarship extended to Malaysians by ‘the little red dot’ Singapore.
Of course, Singapore is not doing it for purely altruistic reasons. The country is giving these much coveted Asean scholarships to build up her national bank of talent.
Some Malaysians accuse them of ‘poaching’ the creme de la creme of our youngsters. I don’t look at it as poaching. Their far-sighted government is doing it in their national interest.
And why not? Singapore can afford it. It has three times our GDP per capita. On another comparative note, the GDP per capita of Taiwan and South Korea are 2.5 times and double ours respectively. Before the NEP’s introduction in 1970, the four countries were at parity.
The big question is why are we surrendering our assets which Malaysian parents have nurtured but the state neglected?
Tens of thousands of young Malaysians have left our shores on the Asean scholarship. I am not sure if Singapore is willing to give out the figure.
But I am pretty sure the Malaysian authorities do not give two hoots about this, whatever number they may have arrived at. If they do, there seems to be no policy change to stem the outflow.
Malaysia is optimistically indifferent to the continuous brain drain, little caring that it is detrimental to our aspiration of becoming a developed country (I hate to say this) like Singapore.
Should you want to read the whole article at one go, this is the link.