research and money, pt. 2

Monday July 30, 2018

Okay this is getting much more interesting now. I just saw new development in MyBrain15 issue, so I thought a second blog post on this issue could complement my first post.

Four news articles were revealed to me just today. Here is the list:

These tell us that our new government has not axed the program for good yet, rather freezing the program for a while for two governmental agencies to take a closer look: the Finance Ministry and the Economic Planning Unit (EPU). This sounds like a tell-tale sign that MyBrain would still be there in the future. I guess we need to wait for the next budget announcement.

Now, there are more information pertaining to the previously-run MyBrain15 program. Some facts first: (1) MyBrain was introduced in 2008, (2) previously, RM 90,000,000 was allocated for the program but never reached the Education ministry, (3) to fund 10,000 scholars the Education Ministry requires RM 612,000,000, (4) YB Mazslee said MyBrain15 was a political move.

For item (2), that would probably explain why there were problems with the distribution of the funding as previously mentioned in the first part of this article series. So the question here now: through what mechanism some students had the funding channeled to them, because from what I am reading here now the Education Ministry does not have a solid record of the transaction, and if that’s true then that’s really bad.

For item (3), this echoes what I previously mentioned: RM90,000,000 was not enough to fund 10,000 students (from start to finish) and I was surprised the actual cost was RM 612,000,000 which makes RM 300,000,000 that was tabled in the revised budget fell short around 50%. The budget was never enough in the first place and the revised budget did not solve that. You could never save a sinking boat by adding more flagpole.

… which now corroborates the sentiment that MyBrain15 was just sweets handed to hungry kids. I would like to believe the actual intention of MyBrain15 was for our country’s greater good, but the news above seem to be telling otherwise. Looks like we will not be seeing 60,000 PhD holders by 2023, which was the original intention of MyBrain15.

Note to myself that next time I need to figure out (1) why we need 60,000 PhD holders by 2023 and I would guess this has to do with reaching the status of a “developed nation”, (2) how would the influx of skilled researchers/scientists in the Malaysia’s labor market would influence the wage, (3) would we be expecting brain drain if this influx of PhD holders go abroad, (4) how some of us treated MyBrain15 a safety net, (5) how the next iteration of MyBrain15, if any, should be modeled after.

As for item (2) above, say that MyBrain produced graduates with Masters degree (yeah, MyBrain had two arms: Masters and PhD programs) but then the graduates had to compete for job in the same market as graduates with Bachelor’s degree, this situation would pull wage downward and this is not good for everyone.