Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Delicate Balance 2 - Meritocracy vs Cruciality

No doubt the government is facing many hard choices today.

Should English be made compulsory in schools? Should scholarship be awarded on the basis of merit (outstanding performance in studies) or to enable poor students with promising ability to further their studies? Should all impediments to trade and commerce at both national and international level be removed to achieve maximum economic growth without considering the unequal opportunity for our businessmen to participate? Should corruption be stamped out without any compromise even if some top political, judicial, and business leaders must be put behind bars? Should the permissive culture of the west be allowed into the country without tough censorship so that Malaysians will become very modern? Should the green lungs of the nation be allowed to shrink further to allow for a faster expansion of modern housing and industrial sites?.....

The questions can go on and on. In many regards the government is desperately searching for a quick answer to prove to the multiracial electorate that it's very capable and trustworthy, and that it has always been fair to all the groups in our multiracial community.

The danger is, any quick and hasty decision may undo many of the key hinges and cables which had held the Malaysian society together for the past 52 years. While English is very important for getting a job and career development, Bahasa is the foundation stone for becoming a Malaysian nation. Fluency in English will open many job opportunities in the country and overseas but will not make you an 'orang putih' and be accepted as one by the Mat Salleh. As a Malaysian you need to be proficient in Bahasa and it was for this reason that a credit in Bahasa (for the SPM)was made compulsory for getting a job in the civil service after Merdeka.

Remember. Without a basic Bahasa requirement in an application for job in this country, any foreigner can compete for the job. English can be spoken by almost anyone although at different level of proficiency but speaking Bahasa (unless you're a multilingual) makes you a Malaysian.

About the award of scholarship based purely on merit, the question to ask is: Is it really surprising if the sons and daughters of well-to-do and well educated families in the cities get very good results in their exams. If the best among them are considered for a scholarship, how about the sons and daughters of poor families who don't do so well compared to their rich peers but have made considerable progress among those in their leagues? Are we going to help the genius sons and daughters of the well-do-do or the promising sons and daughters of the poor farmers and villagers? Award the budding geniuses by all means but do not take away the opportunities for the poor boys and girls who cannot compete with the rich geniuses, to get a chance for pursuing further studies. To them getting a chance to further their studies is a crucial matter. Without government assistance they will never move into the higher levels of society while the
children of well-to-do families are already there.

Meritocracy has a limit when it's used as a basis for selecting the young to go for further education. If a family can easily support the children to go for further studies why deprive the
children of poor families of the opportunity? There should be a differentiation between awards, scholarships, and financial assistance. Don't lump them all together.

On the question of removing all constraints to investment in this country to achieve maximum economic growth ( throwing equity conditions overboard and limiting the scope of the FIC), do we really want to be a super rich country but with 70% of the wealth belonging to foreign investors, with more lands going to the hands of the wealthy, and 10% of the people enjoying
more than 80% of the wealth of the nation? Do we please the foreign investors more than those who are going to vote in the next GE?

The delicate balance between wealth creation and wealth distribution has to be considered with greater urgency before undoing what the earlier leaders of this nation had established. Jangan nanti yang dikejar tak dapat yang dikendung berciciran.

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