Little Napoleon and administrative flaws

By LIM SUE GOAN
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily

Why most Chinese voters voted for Pakatan Rakyat? Politicians should have got some clues from recent incidents like the failure of excellent STPM to get into national universities, as well as the additional admission requirement of Chinese Literature passing qualification for the Bachelor of Education (PISMP).

Every year, we can hear cases about outstanding students failing in receiving offers from the public institutions of higher learning (IPTA) or preferred courses. Meanwhile, "Little Napoleons" in government departments have caused various administrative flaws. These might not be the government's policies but the BN has failed to solve the problems even after so many years, making the people's grievances worse. The 1Malaysia slogan has failed to eliminate the feeling of being excluded and marginalised.

According to Deputy Education Minister II P. Kamalanathan, the problem this year is worse compared to previous years. The University Admission Unit (UPU) received a total applications of 68,702 for first degree courses in the 2013/2014 academic session, but only 41,573 candidates gained admission to the IPTA.

Is it because the examination standard has been lowered, or is it because Malaysian students are doing better? Is the high number of applications for the IPTA the factor causing the distortion of admission requirements?

The basic principle for performance-based university admission system should prioritise top students with perfect cumulative grade point average (CGPA) scores. It is absurd to have students with lower CGPA scores to have offered IPTA admission instead of those with higher CGPA scores. However, such kind of thing actually happens. Among the complaints received by the MCA Youth, a student with CGPA of 3.7 was offered admission to dentistry while the application of another student with CGPA 4.0 was rejected.

The MCA Youth also found that there is room for tricks in extracurricular scores. The extracurricular scores for matriculation colleges are generally higher than the extracurricular scores for the STPM. Students from matriculation colleges received at least 8.8 points while the highest score for STPM students was 8.43 points.

If they have different score awarding standards, whether it is too loose, too strict or with different assessment periods, the results will be different and it is indeed unfair. The loophole reflected a problem. If matriculation college students and STPM students are not competing under a same system and examination, human intervention might be involved.

Prime Minister disclosed that the issue will be raised at the Cabinet meeting this Friday to seek solutions to help the students. However, the problem would never be eliminated without solving the institutional problems. There were 3,536 students with CGPA 4.0 last year and the Cabinet eventually decided to fund a few hundreds of those who failed to receive admission offer for their preferred courses to study in private colleges.

It reminds me of the Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA)'s scholarship awarding issue which was solved also by the Cabinet, and no action was taken against the officials involved. Is the Cabinet playing only the remedial role?

Similar to the PISMP, after making Chinese Literature passing qualification an admission requirement, Education Ministry officials later combined the groups of SPM graduates and UEC graduates into one group, cutting the intake number from 40 to 10.

The move to allow students with the UEC to join the teaching training programme was meant to increase the source of Chinese primary school teachers and such a decision by the Education Ministry officials has actually wasted the efforts done by various parties so far. It seems like the officials are having a greater authority than the government.

Loopholes in the administrative systems have given opportunities to Little Napoleons to run their agenda, while paralysing the government.