This year, MCA Youth chief Wee Ka Siong described it as the worse year ever since he begin handling such complaints, as many students cry foul that either the scholarships given were poorly matched to their qualifications, or that than lesser deserving students were given more.
In a recent interview, MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek argued that the PSD had performed a large series of mismatches, because too many students were clamouring for scholarships for medical degrees.
He said that there were 1,500 applications to do medical courses overseas and not only can this not be accommodated by the PSD grants, there were insufficient institutions to cater for this volume anyway.
“The mismatch is (because) everybody wants to do medicine. As I told you, there are not enough places to do medicine everywhere in the world. Can you imagine (sending) 1,500 people to do medicine overseas?” said Chua.
Chua, who has practiced medicine for more than a decade, believes that the current PSD scholarship award system is flawed and is proposing a revamp.
He said that the current system which allows for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) top scorers to apply for PSD scholarship for medical courses ought to be mulled over.
He explained that the PSD scholarship was conceived to ensure placement of students in “critical courses” and he believes that medicine, and some other disciplines, should be struck off that list.
“Malaysia would have a surplus of doctors in five years time. I'm sorry to say that. We are training out more doctors than usual, the same with pharmacy.
“We have said that to the government. We are very worried that a day will come that when doctors come back, they have no place to go. This is something that is a possibility two or three years down the line,” he said.
Moreover, he believes that it was premature to give out grants for SPM leavers to pursue medicine because it doesn't guarantee that they will ace their pre-university exams, such as A-Levels or other matriculation courses.
“But today, if I said this, I will get a lot of scolding... The fact is that if you scored nine A+, it doesn't mean that you will do very well when you do matriculation,” he said.
Chua also argued that it was “not right” to send all top scholars overseas because a whopping 56 percent of PSD scholarship recipients who studied overseas never returned.
“All of them quickly cabut (run away). They specialise and then disappear into thin air,” he said, adding that MCA supports the government's intention to sue absconders.
For now, MCA's priority in terms of PSD scholarships lies with its special committee, headed for former University Malaysia lecturer Fong Chan Onn, that will draw up suggestions for guidelines to help the department streamline its criteria for scholarships to avoid disputes in the future.
He said that the public were not properly informed about the current criteria and are unfairly critising the government and MCA after failing to secure the grant.
“A lot of people (think that) an A is an A. They don't know what is the difference between an A, A+ and A-. You see the problem?
“In one particular case, (the complainant's) son had ten A. True: Six A-, two A and two A+. So I told him 'Good results, but way behind (the line)',” he said.
Last year, the Najib administration promised that all students who scored eight A+ and above would be entitled to scholarships locally and abroad.
But of the 1,500 scholarships to study abroad, only 300 were distributed based on merit, while the balance were distributed based on four categories - Sabah bumiputeras (five percent), Sarawak bumiputeras (five percent), social composition or the population's racial composition (60 percent) and socially handicapped (10 percent).
Critics claim that this system was unfair to top performing students and would give the impression that the government does not reward its best brains, leading to an eventual brain drain.
Will Chua stand in GE13?
During the hour long interview with Malaysiakini, Chua dismissed talk that BN's losses in the April 16 Sarawak polls and the unprecedented losses suffered by Singapore's ever-ruling PAP party would threaten BN or MCA's chances in the next general election.
He said that in the case of Sarawak, it was a unique scenerio. He said that there was disenchantment with Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud's long rule while much of the population were poor.
“Sarawak is quite a unique case, where a leader has overstayed too long. And in the state, the poverty (level is high). (Then there is) always this accusation of blatant display of wealth,” he said.
Citing the example of how Taib likes to be chauffeured in several of his vintage Rolls Royce cars, Chua said such a practice would cost votes.
“How would people feel? If you asked me, personally, I feel it's a bit odd,” he said.
On whether MCA candidates who lost during the 2008 general election would be fielded again, Chua said that this is the general principle held by the party leaders now, but refused to rule out this possibility.
He said that the party would instead try its best to avoid doing so to prevent the perception that the party was fielding “recycled products”.
“If a person who has lost still has the highest chance of winning, he will be fielded. There is no hard and fast rule (on this),” he said.
On whether the party would be fielding him, Chua coyly said: “I really haven't decided”.
“I don't know. I haven't even decided. I don't even know where I'm going to stand. I may not even want to stand. I may even resign (as party president) before the general election.
“Or maybe I may even resign after the general election if I think I'm not doing a good job. And I have no fear of resigning. You all know that.”