On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Playing field should be same for all

Like any parent, she was obviously proud that her
daughter had  done well and wanted to
share her  accomplishment with anyone
who  cared to listen.

Her daughter must have secured  a place
in ITM on her own merit.  The scholarship
was presumably  given based on her scholastic
and  financial positions.

It's unlikely that her father, a 
full-time party worker who had 
failed in all his political outings, is 
financially well-off. Given his 
prominence, her friends and ITM 
officials would have known about 
her family background.

But credit must be given to the 
Government and ITM for not discriminating against her.

In all likelihood, she is to share  her
father's political inclination  but it
would be terribly unjust had  she been
denied her scholarship  because of her
link with PAS, of  which she had no

There are many students, both in  local
and foreign universities, who  are not
supportive of our government. It is certainly not a recent  phenomenon and our government  should not be unduly worried.

Even during the 60s, when the  Socialist
Club was allowed in Universiti Malaya, it attracted many  idealistic students who believed  they could change the world.

In recent years, as a result of Islamic revivalism, many supported  PAS in our local universities; non Muslims
would support the DAP  and Parti Rakyat

But many students switch their  political
allegiance when they  graduate. Some do
so for selfish  and opportunistic
reasons, believing that they would have better 
prospects backing Umno, MCA or 

Others genuinely believed that it  would
be more effective working  from within
the system than shouting themselves hoarse from outside.

In this context, not many would  agree
with Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Mohamed  Nazri Abdul Aziz for saying that  priority for Mara's education loans  would be given to Barisan Nasional  supporters.

He had said that in politics, priority must always be given to party

Nazri reportedly said applications from others would only be  considered after this was done.

His statement, if correctly reported, is certainly regrettable.  One would have thought that loans  or scholarships are given out  based on meritocracy.

It will be alarming if the child of  an
opposition member is penalised  as a result
of his parent's political  beliefs.

Nazri should be more concerned  with
scholarship holders who fail  to repay
their loans or the possibility of rich parents getting loans  and scholarships for their kids, depriving
those who really need the  assistance.

There should be no political consideration because the money belongs to the

A Parti Keadilan Nasional supporter, for example, is also a taxpayer and a
citizen. It is his constitutional right to enjoy the same  benefits as a Barisan man.

Nazri's stand is contrary to Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad's  recent reminder to Umno members not to
penalise opposition supporters, especially government  servants.

The Umno president had argued  that Umno
members should try to  win them back as
many were former Umno supporters.

Dr Mahathir's advice makes  sense as many
Malays turned  against the leadership on
a few  specific issues, such as the Datuk  Seri Anwar Ibrahim case.

These unhappy citizens turned to  PAS
recently simply because it is  an alternative
political vehicle to  voice their
grievances  and nothing more, much less
its radical policies.

With the same principle, the  PAS-led
Terengganu government  should not stop
Barisan supporters  from getting loans
and scholarships. The oil royalties belong to 
the people of Terengganu and not 
Mentri Besar Hadi Awang.

But Nazri is not entirely wrong.  The
Government expects its scholarship holders to concentrate on  their studies and not waste their  time in street demonstrations.

They should not be used by selfish politicians. If they fail in their  examinations, they should realise  that their political idols won't lift a  finger to help them.

A university dropout is useless  to
whatever political cause the student may want to champion later in  life.

The Education Ministry should  pay more
attention to university  lecturers, some
of whom use up  public money to pursue
post-graduate studies and then return home 

Many of these academic failures,  who
have become harsh critics of  the
Government, never had to worry about being axed during the recession, unlike
those in the private  sector.

Not many of them appreciate  government
efforts in restoring  the economy, never
having worked  in the demanding
environment of  the private sector.

It cannot be denied that students  should
not be divorced entirely  from politics
as the campus must  allow
intellectually-stimulating  debates and
ideas to flourish.

Neither is politics the monopoly  of

The concern of many Malaysians  is that a
large segment of our students and lecturers have become  too partisan and preoccupied with  politics, resulting in neglect for  their work.

Those who disagree with their  political
views in campus are  afraid to express
themselves for  fear of being

If a lecturer is paid to teach 
chemistry, he should just stick to 
it. He shouldn't waste time lecturing students on the purported
evils  of the government.

Nazri would probably get a better hearing if he acts against loan takers who can
no longer fulfill the  requirements and
criteria because  of their political

More importantly, everyone  should be
given a chance to contribute to our beloved nation.