Tuesday, 22 June 2010

I was the best student but have no proof

I was credited as the best student among all JPA overseas scholars by
virtue of being the only one who got first class honours in 1981.
Unfortunately I don't have the newspaper clippings with me. I was told
about this by my College Mate at City University when he met me a few
years later. He told me that it was announced in New Straits Times but
I don't bother to get archives of this newspaper.

I don't really care so much about being the best student until my
youngest son claimed that my eldest son is smarter than I when I tried
to teach him school lessons. Now I realise that even my family didn't
know about my accomplishments because there is no hard proof.

Now I realise that many of my acquaintances didn't know about it. One
rather brave and open minded person even commented in front of me that
I was proud because I was the best student in my town of Sandakan. I
quickly replied that it was not just Sandakan but the whole of Sabah.
Although our offices are in the same building, I never told him about
my examination results. Somebody who know the whole story about myself
had told a distorted view about myself for political reasons. I don't
really care about promotions or status so don't put too much emphasis
on my potentials but are very interested in the achievements of

Now that I am in a semi-retirement state, I feel that I had failed my
friends and acquaintances by not telling the whole truth. Just now I
have just told my daughter about my achievements and their status of
recognition. The Malaysian government does not recognise it. It was
only the chinese journalists who dig into the stories. In fact, it
must have been an embarrassment to the government.

I don't really care so much because I know that it does not guarantee
any help from the government. Sabah state government and Sabah
Foundation didn't offer any scholarship in 1976 or else I would have
applied. I applied to all the scholarships on offer in newspapers,
only to be told that they are not meant for Sabahans despite my
perfect results for the scholarship requirements. Many people didn't
believe me when I told them that I cannot get any scholarship and had
to beg them to let me study at Form Six, at least temporarily.

My name was broadcasted by RTM via radio and TV but only in portions
controlled by Sabah. The next year, RTM was completely federalised.
With all those incessant broadcasting of my name, no wonder the
Federal Government had to introduce the Federal Scholarship to Sabah.
The officer had told me that this scholarship was available even
before that year, but even then I knew he lied. I knew because I don't
know of any advertisement or any student who had been offered such
scholarship. There was a quota of 24 for Sabah, which means the
maximum number of students that will be offered is at most, 24. It
remained 24 for more than 20 years.

I don't really bother so much with that publicity because it didn't
affect my life. They only hear my name. They don't see my picture. My
picture was only published in chinese newspapers. Two chinese reporter
teams visited my house. Now I regret not keeping these chinese
newspapers. It may not be important for myself or my career, but it is
very important for my descendents. Even my youngest son already forgot
about his father's achievement.

One reason why I don't take it seriously is that, I don't really work
hard for it. I play lots of games and watch movies. In fact, I watch
TV everyday and every moment to the point of studying in front of TV.
When I told my in law about this, his son followed my footstep and
became top student as well, but I won't let my children do this most
of the time.

I was the first bumiputra in Sabah to be the best student of the whole
state which means that natives can be excellent students as well. Many
Sabahan natives don't believe that this can be done. That is their
undoing. You don't even have to work too hard. I was deemed the best
because I was good at difficult Mathematical subjects but even then, I
knew that I won't get rich by choosing a scientific career.

I was also the best student in 1973 doing LCE but it was not
publicised by RTM. That was the first time any student in Sabah
managed to get a perfect aggregate score of 5. Someone had told me
that it was impossible so I tried to break this impossibility. My
picture was published in Sandakan chinese newspapers but when I
compared my results with the national best students, my result was
only equated by one other student. The others had much worse results
than I was, except that they took so many subjects.

At that time, I tried to get places at full boarding schools but
failed. Now I don't regret that I didn't go to full boarding schools,
whereas others, with much lower results managed to go. I also failed
to be offered full boarding schools when I passed my primary 6 despite
getting excellent results that could be the best in Sabah also.

In 1969, Sabah Foundation offerred places for students to be sponsored
for full boarding schools in West Malaysia. There is no full boarding
school in Sabah. It appeared that Sabahans prefer to visit West
Malaysia rather than study in Sabah. The federal government encouraged
this policy for the so called integration policy. I called it
discrimination against Sabah. The Malaysian government that is
supposed for the whole of Malaysia, only want to spend money in West
Malaysia. Sabahans prefer to use money from Sabah Foundation because
it was much more than any federal scholarship. Even when I was in
primary 6, I knew that it was nonsense.

I was surprised that I was not offered but my parents already made up
their minds in not sending me overseas. I was surprised because I got
88% for my primary 6 public examination. The highest in my former
school was less than 63% for the previous years. I didn't know that it
could be the highest until I discussed with my colleagues about our
primary 6 examination result. He mentioned that a director of SEDCO
was a very smart person by getting over 70% for this primary 6 result,
while he only managed to get over 60%. I told him that I got over 80%.

I wasn't sure of getting good results because I had difficult with
English. I was in a Malay primary school. That certificate is hung at
my father's wall. I keep on forgetting to scan it and post it in my
web sites. Any Sabahan, who get better result that mine should inform
me. I'd like to know. One interesting aspect of the primary 6
examination was that teachers were helping us by giving answers to
selected difficult questions. Unfortunately I found their answers to
be wrong. Probably the examination papers were kept secret so the
teachers didn't have time to prepare a good answer.

Anyway, I don't always listen to teachers. I always knew that I was
better than most teachers. I only believe them if they give logical
explanations. It does not mean that I don't listen to teachers. In
fact, this is the secret of my success. I listen to teachers in class
so that my absorption rate was almost 100%. Asking questions if I
don't understand or even argue with them despite one of them having an
MA specialising in that subject.

Now I am going to start telling my friends if they know the status of
my examination achievements. At least they know how it is to be with
the best students. Despite there being one best student per year, I
still have not met any of them. It simply shows that they are not easy
to find, so knowing one must be a privilege.

Unfortunately there are many con men around. So beware. If they offer
any monetary rewards, better don't believe them. Just because you are
the best student, does not mean that you can make people rich. It is
just that we can learn at a faster rate. At the beginning of a
learning phase, all of us are equal in knowledge and ability.

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