Sunday, April 13, 2008

It's not all about the money


"With the pay they are getting there, it’s highly unlikely they will come back and serve here." 1

This is what the Public Services Department (PSD) or more affectionately known as JPA sees as the main reason why overseas scholarship holders are not keen to come back to Malaysia after finishing their tax-payers funded degree. Admittedly that's what the general public in Malaysia perceived also.

"Selfish ungrateful scoundrel! Use our taxpayers money to study overseas and then stay back to earn more money!"

I have no sympathy for them, because I always felt that if they are given a chance, they will do exactly that too.


As a PSD scholarship holder, I admit that the amount of money earned overseas is a big plus factor to stay put, but I never saw it as the number one reason for students to break bond. Money is not everything for the most of us.

What I saw as the main factor is the uncertainties about our future in Malaysia that make us reconsider our options of going home.

Throughout our studies here, PSD never inform us what we do not know what to expect when we get home. Whenever the officer came to see us, the highlight is always the delicious Nasi Briyani at the end of meeting. The rest is predictable. No, according to the rule, you cannot stay back. No, not even for further studies. What to do when you go back? Or just go to Putrajaya, they will sort it out.


It seems that their job is only to get us overseas to study and make sure we get back, and they are not even good at that.

"Another reason many students chose to stay back could have been due to PSD’s perceived lenient treatment of such students in the past." 1

Admittedly, that's a hell of a good reason. But we here prefer to call it ineffectiveness, not leniency.

PSD never bothers to tell us what our options are when we go back to Malaysia. They never bother to get us in touch with our destined profession back home in Malaysia, never told us about where we are likely to work, how the working condition is like, the salary and perks, the chances for further studies or promotion. There's a sense of detachment, a sense of uncertainty.

In contrast, we know what to expect when we start working in the country we graduate in. The options are clear and we are familiar with their laws and systems. And since I had carve out a road for myself here that is likely to secure my future, why should I let it all for for uncertainty? The only reason I can see is for the abstract and ungraspable concept called honour and patriotism.


Back to the point, I'm sure that if they spend more time giving us the information and reassure us about our future when we return to Malaysia, the chances of us going back is far higher. A sense of security is a basic human need, and if you can't supply them, don't start blaming those students.

And don't you start complaining that as we are top students, we should be resourceful and find out the opportunities by our own means. I know we know better than being spoon-fed but we really want to hear from the horse mouth. We want the reassurance and feel the sincerity. That's not too much to hope for in the view that we are going to sacrifice the bulk of our life working for the government when everyone knew that the money is greener outside.


So when we finish our course, we are staring into 2 different paths, one with the end as clear as day, the other shrouded with dense foliage and mist. It's a hard choice, and being realists, we are certainly not to do a Robert Frost and go for the road not taken.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Phiaw.

In this fast moving era, we have to think, move, and react very fast (and really really fast ) to survive in this challenging and competitive world. This is why many companies and organisations start their recruitment very early. For instance, some companies start their recruitment in early March 2008 for 2009 employment. They plan ahead and compete with other organisations to recruit the best employees.

However, sad to know that, PSD only let the finish-study-scholarship-holder (All except health science students) know whether they get a job offer in government sector 6 MONTHS AFTER THEY GRADUATE. Yes, it is 6 MONTHS AFTER GRADUATE. If PSD have nothing to offer, then the students are freed. I wonder why PSD don't plan for job allocation 6 MONTHS BEFORE the student graduate? Lazy? Can't be bothered? Why PSD always react so slow and move many steps behind the world? What are those students going to do in 6 month time? Find job and work? What if they suddenly get a call from PSD saying that :" hi there,how are ya?untuk maklumat andda, u got a job. Come to work ya or else u kena." So those students have to terminate the contract with the company they are working in? Contract boleh ubah with the company? Are there any company willing to offer this kind of contract? Or don't find job but sleep at home for 6 months instead? Or work part time in KFC or MCD for 6 months after graduate from study?

I really hope that PSD take pro-active action regarding this matter and cherish we as their workforce.

jooshin said...

i like ur post, very well articulated.

Anonymous said...

yep.well said.

Gal said...

If so then opportunity exists for you to work as a PSD administrator to bring in radical changes to the current system. From the point of selection to determine motives for students' overseas study, to follow throughout the study period, relay home-ground development and career information to students; partner homeland industry mentors with PSD students to create channel to industry insight and provide sense of future job security; present them with monies incentives, meal/housing/petrol allowance, healthcover, tax cut etc to bring back overseas qualified students. In fact that will not only attract homegrown students, it will work for highly qualified overseas professionals who wish to expand their career options. As Malaysian students are born Malaysia, the 'home' bond is unbreakable, and if given appropriate the opportunies to see the options of returning home for work after graduation, I'm sure many will return. Blame and shame is not the option, force and coersion is even worse, you need to give information and incentives, to allow students to see the benefits and make their own informed decisions.

Anonymous said...

Dear JPA mates, I am also a JPA scholar. My humble view is that no matter how cloudy our future may hold for us, we have to return to our country and serve our nation because our people (don't know about the government), but the people are in serious need of our intellect and our global vision. I believe we have what it takes to revolutionize various sectors in the country. While it is true that in the fast moving era we have to think fast, that does not necessarily mean that we have to succumb to the forces of dollar. Go back home. If we are truly scholars, we can shine even in our very homeland.

Anonymous said...

After all the "carefully" set up excuses, they still all lead to one motive: MONEY

It's simple, serve or pay up. Look at your conscience, and recall how you manage to make it overseas in the first place.

Wee Loon ONG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CY said...

Many people seem to miss the point the author is trying to make.

I agree wholeheartedly that it's imperative for scholars to honour their contract terms and serve the country when they finish their studies with the tax payers' money. In legal and ethical terms, there's simply no excuse and justification for any scholar to abscond to other countries - doing so is indeed tantamount to looting the public money. Even if you pay back the amount in full, it is still arguably an act of cheating considering that another deserving student might have gotten the scholarship and gone home to serve the country.

On the flip side, however, I am aghast by how people seem too keen to throw knee-jerk reaction, hurl insults and give moral lectures whenever scholars mention some of the reasons for their reluctance to go home. Yes everyone knows that going home is the only honourable and responsible course to take. I imagine that even someone who failed his SPM Moral could tell you that. However, as far as honour and honesty go, at the end of the day don't forget this fact - most scholars out there are relatively high-achieving, directional individuals who have individual agendas with regards to their own career. To have the idea of scholars as state controlled robots whose sole life mission is to honour the moral and legal contract is a naive simplification.

No, I am not supporting scholars to desert the country and betray whatever responsibility bequeathed to them. It is indisputably wrong. My point however, is that at the same time we accuse the students for the stray thoughts from the moral high horse, we ought to face the truth that the stray thoughts are there to stay and a realistic solution ought to be sought to remedy the situation. We can give all the moral lectures we could rightfully afford, but when some of the reasons for the reluctance are being honestly explained, as the author is clearly trying to do rationally, we could really do much better than saying "See, it's ALL ABOUT MONEY AGAIN, be moral and go home!".

We have every right to appeal to the scholars' conscience and ethics in urging them to go home, but such a message is simply incoherent with the theme behind this post. The author and the first commentator has presented a pretty good case of JPA's lack of clear direction in talent utilisation, and such is the message that we want to convey - these are things JPA could have done better in order to get their scholars home.

We can shout moral slogans for as long as we wish, but when it comes to its effectiveness, instituting a revamp in the system is going to be a much better solution. Has anyone ever rectified corruption by parading slogans of "Hey corruption is immoral" or "Bersih Cekap Amanah" all over the street? No, that doesn't work - we solve the problems by kicking out the corrupted people and instituting a revamp from within. It's about the same case here with the scholars.

Anonymous said...


The Rakyat sponsored us to study in a foreign land,

JPA chose us,

we went to our respective countries to further our undergraduate studies,

we experienced things that millions of others didn't have the chance to,

all these couldn't be achieved without what? The people and the government.

Now after graduation,

you are reluctant to go home

you blame JPA for not giving you a direction,

you blame JPA for not performing as expected in "talent utilization",

you petition that if JPA could have done better in giving you direction then, you would go home.

I ask you, when are you ever going to be satisfied with the work done JPA and then come home?

I think in reality, never.

CY said...

@ Anonymous

Did I say I am not going home? What's with "you are reluctant to go home", "you blame JPA for not giving you a direction" etc? In my previous comment, was there an "I" that went together with those statements?

What I wrote was an observation of the sentiments among some scholars, and I was offering a suggestion that JPA could deal with such sentiments. Giving a description and offering a suggestion to improve the overall system IS NOT the same as placing personal blame on the system. Suggesting ways of improvement in an imperfect system should not be equated to blaming the system.

I am going home, I am just pointing out why many are reluctant to go home. Way to go for being judgmental, dude. You might want to read the author's next post, Ross Tinted Glasses.

Anonymous said...

Right, I see where you heading. My apologize for letting emotion cloud my rationale when I post.

js said...

very interesting to see heated debates here, i am a jpa scholar and i dun hide the fact that i wana stay on overseas. why? because although as much as i wish to help my country, i need to help myself first before anything else, because, unless me and my family's future is well-guaranteed, i won't be able to help anything more.

Anonymous said...

When the head of the fish rots, the rest will go down the drain.

What I am saying is, if our country's leader has more ethical and moral fibers, the rest of her people would not be in a situation pondering whether to break contract and not going home to serve the country and direction-less.

But after 8-Mar election, thing may change for the better. So don't take the easy way out. Go home. Be part of making Malaysia a great country for all races again. Being a JPA scholar means you have the potential to be our community's future leader.

From a tax payer. Ya, I pay part of your scholarship.