…on that boy who sued Khazanah for not awarding him one out of the 3 special Cambridge scholarships despite his Cambridge offer –

I have been in his position before. I understand the desperation he must feel when you are that close to achieving your hopes and dreams, only to have them crash down on you simply because of what you perceive to be systematic injustice (operative word being perceive here).

Therefore I can see where the extremity of his actions is coming from. And again, let me clarify that I do not necessarily agree or disagree with what he did – my agreement or disagreement with his actions are impertinent to what I want to say.

Many commentators on the Malaysian Insider article have scoffed at him and his mentality of ‘self-entitlement’ – telling him he needs to grow up and face the world with a more positive attitude and this lawsuit that he is slamming at Khazanah is, if anything, simply displaying his weakness of character and inability to cope with failure.

General opinion is that just because he has a Cambridge offer, he should not presume he automatically deserves the Cambridge scholarship. They tell him to take a look inward instead, and realise that scholarship requirements go beyond paper qualifications such as, most (in)famously, the number of A’s in his basket, or a university offer. That he needs the whole package as a individual in order to really qualify as an awardee.

Now. To be fair, the boy has to be realistic. There are obviously more than 3 Cambridge offer holders in Malaysia. And surely he cannot definitely prove by any measurable means that he is better than the others.

However, from where I sit as a survivor of the Malaysian education system and the whole agonising rigmarole of the scholarship application process – the commentators are being rather unfair to him, and are really missing the underlying issue here.

We have been told from young that as long as you max out your number of O-level/SPM As and you have at least three distinct extra-curricular activities under your belt – you are a sure win. Indeed the media likes to affirm this by glorifying bearers of 17A1s or 21A1s or whatever (no offense to you guys). No one tells you that you need to have, oh, integrity, or the ability to converse like a socially well-adjusted human being in a professional setting, or the ability to think out of the box, or teamwork ability (I hate that word by the way- teamwork. Shudder.), or initiative or creativity or things like that.

Sure, maybe we should all be more independent-minded, don’t blame the system, etc etc but at 17-19 years old hardly any of us even have a genuine ambition, let alone think independently.

This mentality of ‘self-entitlement’, as they call it, is a result of an education system that consistently and persistently extols and rewards paper qualifications. It would be hypocritical if this boy were to be chastised by the government when he, and many others, are only responding to the incentives they set in the first place!

So can you really blame him? Granted, his actions are extreme to say the least…but really, in any case, you bandwagon of crazy commentators…we have more important things at hand to grapple with. Things that actually matter.

Working towards a more objective and transparent scholarship selection process, for example (controversial?). Or even better but more of a long shot – working towards an education system that actually develops young people as complete human beings instead of revision-book-and-past-year-paper-crunching, overly-competitive scholarship junkies.