Nazri says never promised scholarships abroad to all top scorers
KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz has reminded Malaysians that Putrajaya never promised scholarships abroad to all SPM top scorers as the dispute grew over the distribution of the grants.
Instead, he said, the government had only committed itself to ensuring that all top scorers in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) public examination would be guaranteed places in both local and foreign institutions.
“We never said that all 9A+ students would be sent overseas. But we did promise that they would get places, whether in local or foreign universities,” the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.
Nazri (picture), who is in charge of the Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships, agreed that the government had allocated 1,500 overseas scholarships to top students but stressed that of the total, only 300 were given based entirely on merit to students scoring straight 9A+.
The remaining 1,200 overseas grants, he said, were distributed according to those qualified within four categories — Sabah Bumiputeras (five per cent), Sarawak Bumiputeras (five per cent), social composition or the population’s racial composition (60 per cent) and socially handicapped (10 per cent).
The grants, he added, would only be awarded to applicants who emerged top in their scholarship interviews with the PSD.
Those who did not make the cut, however, would still be given scholarships to study in local universities, said Nazri.
He explained that currently over 360 students fell within the merit category which offers only 300 awards, resulting in over 60 failing to obtain the overseas scholarships.
“This means they may or may not qualify for remaining 1,200 grants. It depends on how they fare in the interviews.
“Perhaps those who did not manage to get it were not very impressive in their interviews. We take into consideration not just their results but also on their co-curriculum activities and how they fared in their interviews.
“However, even if they fail here, they will still be given spots in local institutions,” he said.
As such, Nazri continued to pile criticism on MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong for harping on the issue and complaining of power abuse in the PSD.
Wee, who is also deputy education minister, is leading the escalating protest over the matter after complaining last week that 363 straight A+ students had failed to get the scholarships although Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had agreed last year that all students scoring 8A+ and above will receive PSD scholarships.
A check by The Malaysian Insider on Najib’s statement last year revealed that the prime minister had promised scholarships to all straight 9A+ students in both local and foreign universities.
“So if you do not have the facts, do not talk. I have opposition MPs who are trying to help students coming to see me... they do not go to the press.
“But Wee, a BN MP and a deputy minister, is going to the press and shouting in public for cheap publicity without even seeing me to understand the real issue,” said Nazri.