I congratulated Abdullah as the first government leader to honour the SPM top-scorers, everyone of whom scored nine distinctions or more in last year's SPM examinations, and who were invited to attend a lunch with a Cabinet minister sitting with the students at each table.
The students also met the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who urged them as the best and brightest of their generation not to turn their backs on their country because they owed a debt to society, their parents and the nation for their academic achievements.
Mahathir told the students that they would be given tempting offers by other countries because of their excellent academic achievements. He said:
“Because you are very clever, you will get a lot of offers. They will tell you that if you work in their country you will earn 10 times more and you will be tempted.
“But do remember that you are Malaysians, whatever your race, so make all the money you want and bring it back home. This is my small request.”
Abdullah himself told the students that they were the best of the best in Malaysia and had a responsibility to live up to their reputations as “potential first-class honours graduates”.
The country’s “small request” to Mahathir and Abdullah is to make sure at the Cabinet tomorrow that the country does not turn its back on the best and brightest in the country by treating them as “good riddance to bad rubbish”, which was the government’s attitude in the seventies and eighties in turning its back against Malaysian professionals who were forced to emigrate to other lands for the sake of the future education of their children.
In my email to Abdullah, I also urged him to ensure that Malaysia develop a world-class higher education system internationally renowned for the merit and quality of its students and its academic excellence - which can only be achieved if the best and the brightest of each generation is admitted into the local public universities.
I also urged the Deputy Prime Minister to ensure that the National Higher Education Fund Corporation should be revamped so that it could be administered fairly to provide higher education opportunities to all Malaysians regardless of race, as it is most scandlous that only a paltry four per cent of the RM1.3 billion or RM52 million given out by the fund had been set aside for deserving and poor non-bumiputra students.