Abdullah should set up a
Cabinet task-force to ensure that the Cabinet decision to resolve the
controversy of medical places for the 128 top scorers does not end up as
“Tiger Head, Snake Tail” farce by offering scholarships from the additional
RM10 billion Eight Malaysia Plan allocation to the 94 percent of the 99
students unable to take up medical offers in private colleges
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Wednesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should personally intervene to ensure that the Cabinet solution to resolve the controversy of medical places for the 128 top scorers with the maximum Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.0 but initially denied their choice of a medical course does not end up as a “Tiger Head, Snake Tail” (Hu3 Tou2 She2 Wei3) farce – i.e. “impressive start, disappointing finish”.
I was one of those who was unstinting in my praise for the Cabinet decision of June 2, 2004, declaring in my media statement of 3rd June 2004: “All Cabinet Ministers are to be commended for the decision yesterday to offer medical places for all 128 top scorers with the maximum Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.0 but denied their choice of a medical course”.
It would be most unfortunate if such unstinting praises from all quarters for the Cabinet decision have to be withdrawn because of the “Tiger Head, Snake Tail” handling of the burning national issue, which symbolized more than anything else whether the nation is serious about promoting “the best and brightest” among the new generation of Malaysians, regardless of race, to position the country in the very forefront of international competitiveness because of the new premium placed on “brain power” and meritocracy in the national education system.
It is indeed most shocking from media reports in the past few days, such as The Star yesterday and Sin Chew Daily today, that only six out of the 99 top scorers who have been offered medical courses in private colleges have taken up the offer, representing a shocking and abysmal 6%!
The formula devised by the Ministry of Higher Education to implement the Cabinet decision to enable all the 128 top scorers to do medicine comprised three elements:
To date, only four of the 50 students offered places at the Allianz College of Medical Sciences in Penang to work for the North Sumatra medical degree has taken up the offer.
Out of the 34 offered places at the International Medical University, a total of 17 responded and passed the entrance interview. However, none have confirmed acceptance as they are waiting for details on the financing.
There has also been no confirmation of any acceptance for the 10 places at the Kolej Perubatan Di Raja Perak while for the AIMST, two of the five have taken up the offer – with two rejections while it has not heard from the fifth. This brings the total number of students who have accepted medical placements in private colleges to six!
This is a “formula without a solution” as the majority of the 99 students offered places in the private medical colleges have to forego the opportunity to do medicine either because of costs or the quality of the medical course and the subsequent problem of recognition of the medical degrees.
The costs of private medical schools in the IPTS are easily in the RM200,000 to RM300,000 region as compared to RM20,000 in the IPTA.
The Higher Education Deputy Minister, Datuk Fu Ah Kiow, has shown that he does not understand the dilemmas and agonies of the top scorers and their parents in deciding whether to take up the offer of medical places in the private colleges, particularly when the government is so cryptic about terms and conditions for the conversion of the students’ study loans into scholarships, although their first choice of study is medicine.
At present, a student in non-medical courses can have their study loan converted into scholarship if they receive first class degrees. This should not apply in the case of the 99 “top scorers” who should all be offered instant scholarships for their medical studies in the private colleges as they have proven that they are high-achievers in scoring the maximum CGPA of 4.0.
It will be a crying shame if 94 per cent of the 99 students offered medical places in the private colleges have to reject the opportunity to do medicine although this is their first choice.
Abdullah should set up a special Cabinet task force to bring this problem to a satisfactory conclusion, by ensuring that it does not have an “Tiger Head, Snake Tail” end by offering scholarships from the additional RM10 billion Eight Malaysia Plan allocation to the 94 percent of the 99 students unable to take up medical offers in private colleges – as well as to the six who have already registered for the private medical places.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman