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    Is hoping for meritocracy futile?

    (Updated )
    “Age was respected among his people, but achievement was revered. As the elders said, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings.”

    - Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

    COMMENT | On a working visit to England, prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said: “Whose hands would we leave the fate of this nation to, if not to the young generation? Let us work together and unite to create a bright future for Malaysia,”

    Politicians like to claim that “young people” are the future of this country. What they really mean is that young people are potential voters to keep the system in place.

    Meanwhile, a young Malaysian wrote a letter to the media about the harsh reality of education in Malaysia that exemplifies all that is wrong with the system.

    What I liked about it was that it was devoid of polemics.

    It was a measured reflection of an unpleasant reality facing non-Malay young people in this country. Here was a young Malaysian who did everything by the book, so to speak. This young Malaysian had the “nobles” values Mahathir and other politicians like to talk about, but they mean very little against a system designed to cultivate resentment, amongst other things.

    This writer excelled in his education, and dutifully turned to the system to help in his advancement of the Malaysian dream. To be a productive citizen, the system says do this and do that and you will reap the rewards.

    However, the system failed this young Malaysian...

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