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On Returning Home

25 April 2006

No, this is not another post to tell the world that I’ll be going home soon. I like to believe that closer friends should know this even without reading my blog, and mind you, many of my friends don’t read my blog. I’ve given up telling them to.

There’s been so much talk about JPA (PSD) scholars returning home, serving their 10 years bond that the kpo in me thinks I should blog about it as well. There’s a 76 comments post in MMR followed by a dedicated thread in the forum, there’re letters at UK Doc’s and also on the topic of JPA scholarships, though not about bond-serving, Richard writes on Rags to Riches.

The background to this issue is straightforward, JPA gives out several scholarships each year to students to study medicine in university overseas, whether twinning or otherwise. Having paid for their fees and given them allowance for 7 years (’A’ levels + undergrad), the govt wants 10 years’ work in return. The fresh SPM grad takes the scholarship and eventually breaks the bond.

10 years isn’t all that long, really, especially when you talk about medicine in Malaysia where you start off with 20 months as a houseofficer, followed by 3 years of compulsory service. If everyone else has to 4 1/2 years, the JPA scholar only has to serve 5 1/2 more. And for the amount of money the government puts into them, it doesn’t seem that long a time, does it?

I am a private student and Mummy pays RM 120K for my phase in BJ and GBP 53025 (RM 345042) for the next 3 years in Queens. That’s a total of RM 465042. If I had gone to UK from year 1 or had picked a University in another part of UK, the sum would have been significantly larger. With air tickets, allowances and difference in fees, we can safely say that JPA pays about RM 500K for each of their medic scholars and in return, they want a well trained doctor serving the Malaysian community.

I am surrounded by friends who are JPA scholars. They are all great people… but when we sit down and talk about the above issue, some are determined to come back after their stint overseas while others seem to have decided from the offset that they’ll pay off the “fine” (which is a percentage of the entire sum) and break the bond. What’s my take on it? I think it shows a severe lack of sense of responsibility and civic consciousness. You sign a contract, you honour it. When you sign that piece of paper, you knew the conditions you had to fulfill… no one pushed you into it. The government and the taxpayer owe you nothing, it is not your right to run away with such a huge sum of money. Moreover, if you feel that you should not be bonded by the conditions of the agreement because you could have paid for your education anyway, then pay for it and give others who can’t (and are willing to serve in return) a chance to pursue their dream. We see many reasons given by bond-breakers, ranging from “but there are better post-grad opportunities” to “but there’s unequal treatment (be it racism or sexism) for me back in M’sia”. It may seem understandable on the surface.. but think about it, they are not new to the country and her systems. They knew all these beforehand and I see it as them running away with taxpayers’ money… some society will call this robbery or theft.

Apart from them being irresponsible by breaking the bond, have these people considered the repercussions their actions have on future generations of students? With the increasing number of bond-breakers, the government will eventually see that it’s not worth giving out scholarships… and what about future high scorers who worked hard hoping to live their dreams and who do want to serve their bond.

Of course, there’s this other issue of my juniors making a huge fuss because JPA now regulates the way they rank their partner universities, which may be tied back to their scholar-seniors (not necessarily IMU-ians) breaking bonds… It may seem unfair, but hey, if your parents were paying your fees and they say you can only rank certain universities among your top choice, that’s what you’ll do right? And please count your lucky stars for getting the scholarship in the first place before you whine like a baby, others have to pay large sums of money and take huge loans just to do what you’re doing.

I’m no where near patriotic. I am just sick and tired of scholars acting like the government owes it to them. I am sick and tired of people taking off with taxpayers’ hard earn cash. I am sick and tired of scholars seeing scholarships as a right. Isn’t a scholar supposed to be intelligent? Isn’t a scholar supposed to be of good character? Isn’t a scholar supposed to be honourable?

16 Responses to ' On Returning Home '

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  1. Xiao_zhai said,

    on April 25th, 2006 at 1:19 pm

    Welcome to the world….

  2. angie said,

    on April 25th, 2006 at 9:52 pm

    hear hear!!! hehe, i’m graduating in less than a week’s time, and i have a teaching bond with the government!!! :) i might end up teaching YOUR kids :)

  3. Yee Pei said,

    on April 25th, 2006 at 10:10 pm

    angie: heehee, now that’s one good reason why I should not send my kids to govt schools. :P Just kiddin’. I’m sure you’ll make a great teacher, good luck!

    XZ: bah.

  4. Richard said,

    on April 26th, 2006 at 6:27 pm

    POI ma’am: Scholars today who decide to break the bond have to pay in FULL every single cent the Government has spent on them ie. tuition fees, pocket money, winter clothing, sight seeing allowances etc. plus interest. But yet, parents of friends of mine in London are still willing to pay back later since they said they can easily invest the same sum and make loads to cover back the debt later and still profit. Talking about the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer. Bond breakers these days are the rich and inconsiderate farts.

  5. Xiao_zhai said,

    on April 26th, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    add in some stay to eat curry rice….sure no 1 break 1…..:p:p

  6. Yee Pei said,

    on April 27th, 2006 at 3:22 pm

    Richard: Sorry ’bout the factual error. :P Hmm.. the way I see it, whether they return the money is not as impt as the simple fact that they broke the bond. I dun care if they return 10X what the govt spent on them, they are still dishonourable asses.

    XZ: wouldn’t that be great??? :D

  7. adeline said,

    on April 27th, 2006 at 8:34 pm

    as a much-maligned JPA scholar, (we played mafia with the title, remember?) I have to say I agree with most of what you wrote, YP. I too feel that many scholars take plenty of stuff for granted.

    however, must also add here that some of JPA’s conditions dont leave much room for us to pursue our own dreams as well. too long to elaborate, but some people signed contracts in good faith, only to find the conditions “evolving” with time. then when we protest, we get accused of not being grateful.

    2 sides to every coin la.

  8. Yee Pei said,

    on April 27th, 2006 at 8:38 pm

    But Gongster, when you signed the contract, you also agreed to that tiny clause at the bottom which says they have the right to alter certain conditions, don’t you? :P

    I think scholars and scholars-to-be have to realise that nothing in this world is perfect. If they choose to take on a scholarship, they will be under the organisation’s thumb for a period of time.

  9. Karen said,

    on April 28th, 2006 at 4:14 pm

    This post, is in no way generalizing the scholars. Some I know, are really genuine people.

    You know, I think we won’t call JPA scholars
    ungrateful, if we’re not surrounded by the majority who tells it to our face that they’re going to manipulate JPA for their own personal benefit.
    Because if they really are going to fulfill their promise of serving the nation, I find NO problem in them being unhappy for not getting what they’ve been promised.
    It’s like you give me this, and I promise I’ll give u that.
    But the situation is nothing like this. Scholars feel like you have to give me this, even though I’ll run off one day.Cause I’m a high-achiever and I totally deserve to be in the best university in UK, making the best of myself. Cause I deserve it.Don’t academic prodigies always end up successful in life???

    People see scholars as smart-asses, which I don’t deny.
    And as much as they’re unhappy with JPA’s inconsistent promises, they don’t realise that they themselves, are the result of JPA’s serious incompetency.

    You are right, the problem lies in them feeling like its their right to it.
    If they recognised the agreement to the scholarship as a promise for world class workforce in exchange of world-class education, they would not be thinking of breaking the bond, earning big bucks in a developed country and collecting the MRCPs.

    How can this happen? Malaysia has a long way to go, before they know what they’re doing…
    Awarding scholarships to rich asses, then getting them pay a fraction to escape the bond, or letting them disappear completely..

    If JPA students want to talk about injustice of JPA’s promises, they should look hard at the log in their eyes and see what sort of injustice they are pulling, by stripping opportunities from more deserving students (by this i mean financially-considered students) and making full use of the opportunity FOR THEIR OWN PERSONAL BENEFIT.

    This is the ultimate injustice. To be in the position where you are free to make choices in your life, and then choosing the immoral path of lowliness.

    Please don’t leave. For the sake of the comfortable life you don’t rightfully own, millions of people are deprived…the millions whom the government is trying to provide for. The millions who are the reason for the scholarship.

    Where is the integrity ?
    Unlike being an accountant, or an engineer, a doctor directly serves the most basic human needs. You would think them last as the dishonest one, the selfish one and nothing like who these scholar doctors are.

  10. delrina said,

    on April 28th, 2006 at 4:38 pm

    hi there! as a queen’s student to another, i just want to congratulate you on coming to belfast. hope u will enjoy your clinical years here as much as I do!

  11. Yee Pei said,

    on April 28th, 2006 at 11:05 pm

    Karen: Wow, that’s a very long comment, long enough to be a blog post on it’s own, don’t you think? Anyway, I agree with you that some scholars do take it for granted, and while scholars complain about JPA’s inconsistencies, it may be due to past scholars’ actions that these inconsistencies exist… once again the phrase “there’s always 2 sides to a coin” comes into play.

    Delrina: thanks. :D

  12. lishun said,

    on April 28th, 2006 at 11:06 pm

    i agree with yeepei. i’m a jpa scholar. some of you might know about the whole mess i was in last year. as much as i resent the fact that i have to let go of my dream of pursuing my studies overseas, i know that the psd is not obliged to give me what i want all the time just because i “deserve” it.

    straight A1s for spm doesn’t mean the government owes you anything. when they gave you the offer, you had the choice to accept or decline. yeepei is right in that the moment you sign that contract, you’re subject to every condition listed in it. if it means that the psd has every right to choose which unis you should rank first, then so be it.

    i don’t get the fuss about the 10-year bond. it means i am guaranteed a job the moment i graduate. it means i have the opportunity to familiarise myself with the malaysian health system. it allows me to build a network here and the medical profession is a very social one that involves cooperation between doctors of every field. it literally pays to have friends in the healthcare business.

    what is so troublesome about serving the government for 10 years? my parents would have had to sell the car and maybe even the house to pay for my education otherwise. plus 10 years in the government means i will be halfway through to being eligible for receiving pension. no one realises the value of pension until they’re 70 and incapable of working any longer.

    anyway, am ranting. it just pisses me off that jpa scholars complain without thinking. it pisses me off even more when students who don’t get the scholarship, especially non-bumis, immediately play the racism card.

    first of all, you can’t change the constitution. secondly, the jpa scholarship is not the one and only scholarship available out there. many of my friends have not been awarded the jpa scholarship but have applied for other scholarships, decided to work for merit scholarships, or have taken out loans and are already working towards paying those loans back.

    have more tenacity and less of that “you-owe-me-cuz-i-am-brilliant” attitude and we’ll all do very well indeed.

  13. lishun said,

    on April 28th, 2006 at 11:09 pm

    p/s: jpa has mentioned something about making us pay every single cent spent on us if we break the bond. however, nothing’s been given to us in black and white. we were not required to sign any new contracts or anything of that sort. as far as i know, as long as you didn’t sign anything concrete, the conditions of the contract you signed earlier still apply. which means the condition of paying a lump sum (ranging between rm160k to rm350k, depending on when you signed the contract) is the actual one to be followed.

  14. ngchmd said,

    on April 29th, 2006 at 4:12 pm

    When evaluating one’s goals and objectives, a vital question must be asked: What is your highest aspiration? Wealth, fame, knowledge, popularity or integrity.

    If integrity is second to any of the alternatives, then it is subject to sacrifice in situations where a choice must be made. Such situations will inevitably occur in every person’s life.

    YP: Make sure you visit the beautiful Antrim Coast and the Giants causeway while in Northern Ireland. Best wishes.

  15. Yee Pei said,

    on April 29th, 2006 at 6:13 pm

    lishun: You may want to go find out more about that, because Richard tells me that his friend in King’s recieved a letter already. Then again, if you are going to serve the 10 yrs’ bond, it doesn’t make a diff lah… :)

    ngchmd: I find it worrying that some people place integrity far far below wealth and greed. That kind of “ranking” resembles that of a thief or a conman’s doesn’t it? (Thanks a lot for visiting my blog and commenting. :D)

  16. on April 30th, 2006 at 10:14 pm

    On breaking bonds…

    She pretty much summed up what I wanted to comment on this issue.The bottom line is, is it really the poor pay that is keeping these graduates away from retuning to and serve Malaysia? Or did these “students” already had such plans when the…

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