Straight A's Student Didn't Make The Cut For His Dream Course Despite 5 Years Of Hard Work
A student recently took to Twitter to talk about his journey from high school until university level as a non-Bumiputera student
In a series of tweets, the student from Kelantan wrote about how the challenges he had to face as a non-Bumiputera who was trying to get into a pre-university programme that is often said to be reserved for only Bumiputera students.
He began with a disclaimer saying, "Note that this thread is just my experience and I do no intend to involve politics or anything else. I just want to tell you my story."
It all started with a young teen's aspiration to get into a public university many years ago
The student said that he was a student at a boarding school in Kuala Lumpur since Form 1. He had to live independently and far away from his family, who were living in Kelantan.
Despite his tender age, he knew from the start that this sacrifice was necessary because he had a dream.
"I only had one intention. I wanted to get into a public university. My parents cannot afford to fund my studies at a private university," he wrote.
To achieve his dreams, he joined every extracurricular activity in school and started to learn music, all while maintaining his good academic performance.
"I wanted to study properly because I didn't want to disappoint my parents."
In the first two years of secondary school, he made friends and hung out with everyone
"Naughty ones, rempits, smart students, everyone was my friend."
When he was in Form 2, someone told him something that he would remember years later.
"A senior suddenly told me: We, non-bumiputera students, will find it extremely difficult to get into UPU's Asasi (foundation) programme."
What he didn't realise then is that Asasi programme (a special programme designed to fit the curriculum of a specific public university's degree course) is "generally offered to Bumiputera students" and the chances of a non-Bumiputera student getting an offer is very slim.
Students who want to enrol into an Asasi programme would have to apply through UPU (Unit Pengambilan Universiti), the institution that is responsible for handling the application process for Public Universities (UA), Polytechnics, Community Colleges and Institut Latihan Kemahiran Awam (ILKA) in Malaysia.
What his senior told him came as a revelation, and it only made him work harder
He participated in anything that could make him look good on paper.
"There was an audition to get into the national choir at that time but the venue for practice was very far. I don't even know where."
"Imagine this - a boy from Kelantan, alone on the streets of Kuala Lumpur without any handphone (the boarding school didn't allow). I just asked people where is the place."
He was grateful that he eventually got into the national choir but he had to starve because he needed to use his money to pay for his own transportation to get to the practice. But in the end, he quit because the experience was "too bitter".
"From there, I understood that this world is unfair. It's not that we can get everything that we want. We have to look at our own abilities."
Although he felt overwhelmed by the challenges in life, he never looked back and kept moving forward.
He pursued his passion for music and continued to give his 100% and went on to score a string of straight A's for his PT3 (Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3) examinations.
Due to his excellent results and bitter past experience, he was transferred to another school. There, he learned how to play cak lempong, a traditional Malay music instrument and made his way to play it at the international level.
He was an overachiever, winning several awards at the global stage. He went to Singapore and won the best oral presentation for a Science project and a gold award for the Maths Olympiad. He was also crowned as the champion in public speaking in Thailand.
His mission remained unchanged throughout the years in secondary school. His ultimate end goal was to get into an Asasi programme.
The student gave his all, in hopes of reaching his dreams.
He was one of the top 10 students in school and he aced his SPM examinations, getting straight A's.
"After getting my SPM results, like everyone else who graduated from high school, I was excited to submit my application to UPU," he shared.
"I was confident. I have everything for my applications. My qualifications are tip top. But I forgot. There was something that I could not qualify: my skin colour."
"I'm a Chinese. I only have 3 choices: Asasi Pintar UKM (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Asasi UPM (Universiti Putra Malaysia) and Asasi UPNM (Universiti Pertahanan Negara Malaysia)."
"At that time I wasn't scared. I was sure that I would get an offer with my qualifications."
But everything came crashing down when the results were out.
"Guess what? Like many non-Bumiputeras, I got something else. Not Asasi."
While they were many options available for the Asasi programmes, he said that non-bumiputera students have very little options
He explained that the competition is actually low but that’s not the case for non-bumiputera students.
"Although you are the best among your friends, but you fall in the ranks because of your race."
"My dreams crushed. Since Form 1, I left my home. Came to Kuala Lumpur alone, and survived the craziness all because I wanted to get into Asasi programme. But that didn't happen."
Despite his disappointments, he was grateful that he still managed to get an offer
"Maybe I'm not the most clever among the Chinese. I only have 6A+. For the Chinese people, 6A+ is only the minimum. The competition is very high."
"But anyway, I'm grateful for what I have," he said.
He revealed that he got an offer to enrol for a matriculation programme in Kelantan.
However, deep down, he felt guilty because he had failed himself in the five years that he invested in trying to achieve this dream.
“I worked hard for five years but everything crushed in a moment. I was willing to sacrifice my youth and happiness. But did you (UPU) fulfil my dreams?”
"I think it's true what the senior said. Maybe Malaysia doesn't need us."
In the next few tweets, the SPM school-leaver bared all his honest thoughts following the disappointing outcome of his applications:
"I love Malaysia like mad. I have brought honour to Malaysia's name abroad. When I was studying overseas for a student exchange programme, I didn't tell people I'm a Chinese. I said I'm a Malaysian who learned the Chinese language."
"But it is only now that I know my status as a non-bumiputera. I feel like I'm so stupid. Maybe because I don't work hard enough. Maybe I don't have the qualifications."
"However, I'd like to think positively. Maybe Asasi is not for me, there are many possibilities. We are only humans who do not know what is the future ahead of us."
"That is why I chose to enrol for the matriculation programme in Kelantan. I rejected all overseas scholarship because I want to serve in my homeland."
The 18-year-old teen ended his story about his journey thus far with a question: "But now I'm confused. Does Malaysia appreciate me as a useful being?"