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Election Watch

Scholarships: Secrecy may dent trust

Source: The New Straits Times
Date: 15 June 2011

THE announcement by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz that it is government policy not to publish the list of recipients of Public Service Department scholarships is unreasonable.

I hope it is Nazri's decision, and not that of the government's, as it contradicts its policy and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's pronouncements to promote more integrity, transparency and accountability in the government.

The secrecy surrounding the PSD scholarships will undermine public confidence.

The criteria are based on academic achievement (20 per cent), racial composition (60 per cent), Bumiputeras in Sabah and Sa-rawak (10 per cent), and the socially disadvantaged (10 per cent). 

Now, because of the secrecy, people will question these ratios and whether they have been followed.

The government's credibility will now be questioned, not only in this area, but also in issues relating to the implementation of the Economic Transformation Programme and the New Economic Model.

Even the announcement of the nine new project initiatives that are expected to generate RM2.77 billion in investments and 36,595 jobs may be regarded as doubtful.

Such are the problems of poor public perception and the need to be more transparent to win public support for government policies.

The public will also be peeved by Nazri's claim that there is still "a lack of public understanding despite efforts to educate the people through the media".

The public knows what is happening but what it cannot understand is the lack of transparency that is worsened by his attempt to justify the secrecy.

Hence, I am sure that the public would greatly appreciate the publication of the whole list of PSD scholars. 

I appeal to the government to reveal the PSD "secret" by practising the high standards of integrity that it promotes.


TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Chairman, Centre For Public Policy Studies

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