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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Open Letter to My Sister ( and Other Failed JPA Contenders)

Dear sis,

I am very proud of you, of your achievement in SPM ( British System O-level equivalent) . You scored 12 A1, a feat that was equaled and surpassed only by some 300 SPM candidates out of 40000 exam takers. That placed you at the top of 0.75% of all SPM takers. Well done!

With such a result you aimed for JPA scholarhsip, a scholarship given by Malaysian government to bright, hardworking SPM students to further their studies in local or overseas universities. According to the news source 4000 scholarships would be awarded this year, so since your result is definitely better than the median of all scholarship recipients, I felt that you had a good chance to get one. Of course, I had have some reservation, because JPA scholarship is always competitive, and there wasn't a single year whereby we didn't hear any controversies.

But I believe you put in your best effort, as you always did, when preparing for interviews. And at the end of that you seemed confident. The only thing is when the results were announced, you and I were deeply surprised, and dejected.

Despite your best effort, despite your excellent results, despite the status of our family ( JPA gives special consideration for candidates from poorer background and East Malaysia, both of which we are qualified for), you failed to secure a scholarship. On the day the news broke out, you were very angry, and puzzled by the criteria the JPA chose its candidates. You asked me why your friends, who did worse than you in the SPM exams earn a scholarship but you didn't. Although you conveyed your message in emails, but I could clearly feel the resentment, and the sense of being victimized.

I know you are angry, you are sad, you feel that this shouldn't be happening to you, that the world is unfair and the JPA people are either blind or not being impartial as they claim they are. It might disappoint you that this post is not a chorus to lambast JPA and Malaysia government. But let me tell you something: this world, my sister, is always unfair.
Yes, this is a cruel world, with no justice, with no fairness.

I can tell you thousands of injustice that were happening, or are happening right now. But let me just give you a few examples. You watch soccer? I bet your don't. But let me just cite the example anyway. There is a soccer team in England, call Chelsea, which is bankrolled by a billionaire named Roman Abramovich. The sole purpose of Abramovich acquiring Chelsea in 2004 was to transform it from a team of debt into a team of silverware. Last year, 2008 was the year Abramovich came agonizingly close to achieving his goal. Chelsea won four runner-ups. In the EPL they were second to Manchester United. And in the European Champion's league final they were beaten by Man Utd again, this time in penalty shootout. The sad thing for Chelsea fan was, they could have won both, if only lady luck slided with them.

Before the last game of EPL, Chelsea and Man-Utd were tied in their points. So whoever won the last game won the championship. When the first half ended, Chelsea was leading 1-0 and Man Utd was lucky not to concede a penalty-- the referee erred by not awarding a penalty against Man Utd. A resilient Man Utd fought back in second half and scored two goals that effectively secured the championship, whereas Chelsea conceded a late goal after knowing that Man Utd wrapped up the game. Chelsea fans asked themselves what happened that day? They lost not because they weren't good-- they lost because someone else made a mistake and their opponent seized the chance.

As if things weren't bad enough, a week later Chelsea and Man Utd met again, this time in European Championship. The game was lackluster, with both team waiting for penalty shootout. Man Utd missed a penalty first, and if John Terry, Chelsea's captain could score the goal, Chelsea would win the championship.

But Terry stumbled; he missed the penalty and sent Chelsea to hell. Just imagine, if only John Terry could be his old, cool self, if only the goal post was a little bit wider, things could have been very different.

So, Chelsea ended up with 4 runner-ups, despite that they should really deserve better.

As if that wasn't enough, Chelsea lost out to Barcelona in the semis this year, thanks to the referee who consistently made critical mistakes in favor of Barcelona.

What I am telling you is that this life, as we experience it, is never fair. Things don't work in the way we want. We lack the luck the very moment we need it. And the even if we are the best we may not actually win! It's just a fact that we must get over, and overcome.

You didn't get a scholarship, that's fine, and if you failed in your appeal, so be it. Just tell you yourselves this: don't ever let this kind of thing happen to your loves once, ever.

Do your best to control your destiny. Don't trust in luck, don't trust in other people, don't simply believe in the assurance of other parties because they can fail. And don't put your fate into a screwed and skewed system.

Instead, equip yourself, fight your way up and out. You don't give me a scholarship? Fine! I will find ways to complete my studies, and I will make sure that my kids don't have to go through the kind of torment I went through, and that they can go to Harvard or Princeton as long as they qualify without worrying about money because I can provide them with adequate financial support.

Tell yourself that you will do everything to stop your kids from facing this kind of discrimination.
Tell yourself that you won't be trumped by injustice and unfairness. You are going to fight back-- you have to!-- by being self-reliance.

You can make it.


Your bro.


Lucius Phang said...

Nice piece but you've forgotten the most important comfort in life, that's GOD. Anything can go wrong, but GOD won't. Self-reliant is good but not to succeed without GOD.


Lucius Phang said...

Bro, interesting read @ Lim Kit Siang's blog. Read the comment as well, similar to your and most "Failed JPA contenders" grumbles... Hehe...