To all the detractors of my earlier article

I take it with a pinch of salt that STPM does require understanding. However, I am all against “The day when students prefer STPM to other private courses is the day we see our malaysian education succeed,” as stated by one commenter.

Here’s my rationale:
The toughest exams

STPM imposes too much information in 1.5 years. That in itself shows the inadequacies of a system which doesn’t give enough time for students to consume the information required. On top of that, the STPM requires massive amounts of study time in order to score well. Students in the US have time to pursue voluntary work or start a business in their garage while studying at secondary level. This gives students ample time to develop themselves as well-rounded students. How many STPM students who excelled had time to paint, play sports actively or start a business?

Also, a friend of mine who studied STPM mathematics went to uni to study IT (not a choice) and found the maths in uni easier than what she learned in STPM. My question is – if the subject is going to be taught in university-level, why teach it in STPM-level?

On the other hand, systems like CAL give students time to excel AND pursue other passions.

Fixed streams and limited subjects
Students are often forced to be in a certain stream to study STPM. I know of science stream students who wish to switch to the arts stream as it will be easier, but are denied enrollment or are allowed in only after much wrangling, causing them to miss a few classes. The government is so fixated on getting more science students even though there aren’t enough science-related jobs in the country.
A-levels provide more subjects such as law, which the STPM doesn’t provide as an option. That in itself better prepares a student for his/her future vocation. How does doing chemistry help when one eventually applies for IT or other subjects unrelated to chemistry course? The subject options in the STPM are more rigid compared to those provided in A-levels.

Harvard and the National University of Singapore can accept STPM results BUT…
Their country wouldn’t implement the STPM exam system themselves. And they are among the brightest in the world, so do you think STPM is still the best option?


Institutionalised racism
Even the Americans were racist once upon a time when they made the blacks into slaves, and yet now we have a black president of theUnited States. We don’t just sit around and point our fingers at our forefathers. We acknowledge the mistakes and rectify them. The quota system is simply institutionalised racism – period. In every country, minorities are given a quota to help them. Only in Malaysia is the majority given a quota. What rubbish. If the Americans can move away from racism and accept a black president, we should have the maturity to look beyond race when awarding public university admissions. And that means non-Malays have an equal right to education as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (or,dear Pink Cup Cake, do you not believe in human rights?):

Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 26

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.


Standardised pre-university qualification
I wholly stand by the idea of a standardised pre-university qualification as it is fairer to students. The government has to abolish the STPM and matriculation programs and come up with a unifying and fair pre-university qualification, such as providing A-levels to its students at the government’s cost.

To Pink Cup Cake, who wrote THIS
“To me, you just sound like a child to a family whom can afford to send their kids to private colleges/universities, whining on how unfair is the system when you have not even attempted to work your way through the system. Therefore, for the simple reasons above, your arguments shall be invalidated on ground of bias and partiality.”

For your information, I studied in the science stream for the SPM, and I knew I had to go to private college but my parents couldn’t afford it. Hence, I studied hard enough to win a scholarship to a local private college. Please tell me that you’ve worked as hard; otherwise, you are showcasing jealousy for people who went to college, and you certainly sound like it.
After obtaining the scholarship, I worked  in order to pay my private college fees for my A-levels. My family played no part in paying for my college fees. How many students can and/or are willing to work and study at the same time to realise their ambition? So don’t say I didn’t work my way through. The fact that you are whining about private college students hints at jealousy. Also, why on earth would I work through STPM when it is merely institutionalised racism (as I strongly believe it to be) when I obtained a scholarship to pursue the course of my choosing? One would have to be stupid to turn down a scholarship they had worked hard for and applied to in exchange of opting for the STPM.

Any other arguments?

Featured image sourced from the SMK Elopura, Sandakan website.

Cass likes coffee. She equates politics to drinking coffee. Too much will keep you awake. You need to sweeten it yourself or else it will taste bitter. But it's also addictive if you drink it frequently.

48 replies on “Get Rid of STPM, Part 2”

  1. I never regretted taking STPM, I think that was the best time in my entire life as a pre-Uni student comparing with college students. I remember is because of my form 6 that leads me to law. I remembered our school went for court trip in 2009 as well as the parliament while the session was on ( manage to set Lim Kit Siang debated on some Anti-Corruption issue)to let us know about the law making body, and when your previous article mention that there is no law is a subject I strong admit there is no law as a subject but it was incorporated under pengajian am until today I never forget about 'Doktrin Pengasingan Kuasa' which is the separation of power and is applicable and relevant for constitutions law at least I know what it means in Malay and it depends on individual how you look at at. I went to a government school with good teachers. I still remember that we have to learn about the Malaysian Federal Constitution, (Perlembagaan Persekutuan Tanah Melayu) and so many more, the court structure which was even more insane we have to about the structure for Military courts (Mahkamah Tentera) and how it works to the dot of it as well as Malaysian Legal System which A-level law fails to provide. I will never ever say that STPM should be getting rid of but the current system (Thanks to Muhyiddin) he has eased the system which I disagree with the current system although there was a structure syllabus unlike my year we have learn and memorize almost everything and by the way being in arts stream is not about memorizing and regurgitation, we need to do lots and lots or reading including sejarah. Even in sejarah we have to learn about sistem perundangan and kehakiman for Tamadun Asia especially Tamadun China, that is where is started to learn about 'presumption of innocence' in comparison between how the courts during the Manchu Dynasty conducted the trial and in comparison with how the trial was in Hong Kong.

    What are the benefits in A-level tell me more about it ? I only found the things that they learn are very basic ie English Contract Law, Criminal Law and Tort and that would be a plus point for them for their 1st year subjects in Law Degree an never forget the English Legal System as well. So do you learn much about Malaysian Legal system or Law? definitely not and 'presumption of innocence' as I have stated or mentioned above ? No you don't you only know the general rule for Woolmington v DPP I guess.

    As for for the extra-curricular ? We have unity club in school that was where as a member we get to go for court trips and we always have activities together as a form 6 student council member we even fought for the rights of changing our school uniform system to make a distinction between the lower forms (form 1- form 5) and form 6 today, school uniform is black and white.

    besides that I even have time to join the school choir and went for choir competition for the state and perform under Majlis Sukan Sekolah Malaysia.

    Basically The problem is not about Form 6 and it also depends which school you attended( by the way that school I went to the entire school system sucks, but that at least there was freedom granted under the school rules and regulations) and don't generalized that the form 6 teachers are bad and not dedicated until today I am still keeping in touch with them.

    the crux of the problem is STPM exam itself, my era it was complained no guidelines and syllabus and we use three different 'textbooks' that has different contents in it and have to cramp and study like a dog.Today guidelines were given and no doubt there are flaws as to the examination system. I didn't go for tuition and yet I manage to score an A for Sejarah and B for Pengajian Am.I have a friend she went for tuition and she was hardworking memorizing the entire bulk of it and does all her homework and pass up every single assignment to our teacher and yet she failed both of the subjects. Does it sound similar to you? And is a 3 hours paper and answering 4 questions. Now it seems to be different.

    To me Form 6 does help me in law school as I am doing UOL external paper for my finals currently (I took a year gap) I manage to scrape through 1st and 2nd year. So don't under estimate STPM okay? Please do more research before posting another article. As for the current STPM examination I have to say is much easier and at one point of time it was being questioned whether would the standard be on par with previous STPM exams or even lesser than A-levels today.

    PS: I even join Christian Fellowship during my form and we were even to have evangelical meetings not in school in a nearby church but was approved by school. so how amazing was that?

  2. Stick and stones may break our bones, so does stpm. It has too much syllabus in a very short period.even though stpm has currently changed into the semester system but it just means you can retake the subject which means more the first batch of stpm semester form, I felt the time given is even more scarce which is insufficient for some to adapt. we have to fully understand every chapter for the exams are more in detail than our seniours.You may say that that's the test put to use but it also has to depend on which school you are pursuing ur stpm because some schools make students join many curriculum that it affects their academic presentation. My whole class ,which means 29 people is retaking biology semester. Is that OK?
    My apologies for mistakes in grammar, I'm still learning:)

  3. Cass Shan,

    Surely you must have had an inkling to the attacks that would ensue when you titled your article ‘Get rid of STPM’, instead of ‘Abolish Matriculation’ or something that actually reflected your call for a ‘universal pre-u qualification’? I simply cannot see how you think that the abolishment of STPM will help create a standardised university entrance qualification. Couldn’t you instead argue the abolishment of Matriculation (unless you believe that deserves to stay)? Or argue that the government should consider revamping the system to include a more diverse range of subjects?

    The reason STPM is separated according to streams is because most, if not all, public university course prerequisites are set that way. If you want to do Engineering, you need a minimum 3.00 GPA in Physics and Mathematics or if you don’t have Physics, the university will settle for either Biology or Chemistry provided you have taken Physics at SPM level. Don’t dream of applying if you don’t satisfy that.

    There used to be a time when my own Form 6 School provided a subject package of Chemistry, Economics and Mathematics, but it was difficult to get into critical courses with that subject combination and hence, the school separated the subjects according to the streams. Your call for a variety of subjects and allowing students to choose their own subjects is a valid one, but it’s possible more STPM takers would be denied university places considering they wouldn’t have the “right” combination of subjects. Your argument should address the rigid system already implemented in public universities, not STPM.

    Like another commenter before me, I, too got into a public university to do a course of my choice. In order to get it, you just have to be better than everybody else if/when applying for what all of you want. I don’t know what your take is, but to a lot of people, competition is considered a good thing.

    I have many arguments with this piece (and the previous), but I shall restrain myself because Miss Kamilia has done so, and neither you nor myself want you to repeat what I can see for myself in your replies to the others(reasoning which still escapes me).

    Just one, which I desperately seek clarification on when you asked, ‘if the subject is going to be taught in university-level, why teach it in STPM-level?’
    What is your point? She shouldn’t have known so much before she went to university? She wasted her time learning something that made university maths seem like a joke? I hope you can provide me with your reason as to why this is a problem/harm for students like your friend.

    Cass, I know I might have sounded like I have taken offence at your views, and I apologize for being blunt. It is not my intention to purposefully insult a person who clearly has some points of contention, albeit some unreasonable ones. Truth is, I am genuinely interested in understanding why your article fixates on the abolishment of STPM, an so my reply is phrase in the same way I tried to comprehend your article. I do look forward to reading Part 3; especially interested to see how you address Miss Kamilia’s rebuttals as well as that which you show pre-u education options for poor students.


    1. Hi DV,

      There is no real Part 3 as I decided to agree to disagree after posting my response to commenters above. 'Part 3' is actually a new article.

      I think focusing on solutions would be more helpful than prolonging a debate in which obviously not everyone would agree with.

      P/S – yes, I have an axe to grind with a lot of the local education system and this is just one of them, doesn't mean I support everything else (matriculation etc). An article has to have focus after all. Maybe we'll leave that for another day?

  4. Note to self – "Stop prolonging this debate".

    Lord give me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept what I can't change and the wisdom to know the difference.


    1. Dear Cass,

      Please keep it going. I am still very interested in what you have to say in Part 3. Yes I cannot change you and you cannot change me, but perhaps, somewhere, I'll acknowledge your ideas and views and you acknowledge mines. That is the core of any debate. Do not run away from a problem, face it instead.


      1. Dear BenG,

        Thank you for seeking a debate for further understanding. Part 3 will be up soon.


  5. Dear Cass,

    In my opinion, I believe that you place too much emphasis on the examinations as it should not matter which exams you are sitting for. Substituting STPM with A levels does not in fact change the fact of what you consider as 'institutionalized racism'. The problem is not with STPM as an examination but rather the fact that you feel dissatisfied with the current system in regards to the requirement to enter the local universities.

    Moreover, and most importantly, i believe you confused the concept of learning to score in an exam with the concept of learning for the sake of learning. If you truly embrace the latter philosophy, it does not matter if you study biology even if you are indeed wishing to read law. Cliche as it may sound but you do not lose out simply because you know to argue against those quirky existentialist or tell the difference between a xylem and phloem. By the way, one of the reason that computers have so many different fonts is simply because Steve Jobs did not drop out of Calligraphy classes even though at that time it serve no practical usage at that time. Ten years later he created typography in regards to Apple computers and we are no longer doomed to read text in one type of font. True Story XD.

    One of the greatest myth I believe that modern society created is the fact that knowledge is limited. In fact it is limitless and infinite. It goes beyond your textbook, your A levels and STPM, your degrees, Masters and doctorates. It goes beyond that piece of paper with your sealed candle and the Dean's signature. I believe that the true value of a good education is the ability to learn and, that my friend, cannot truly be tested simply in a two-hour examination.

    1. I agree with passerby. Instead of delving into which standard examinations is more suited for our students, the problem lies education system. But before that, let us examine the two problem statements Cass Shan tries to address:

      (1) Abrogating Institutional Racism by Standardizing University Entry Requirements; and
      (2) Improving Pre-university Education.

      Cass Shan argued that in order to solve (1), we must perform (2). She also posits that STPM is flawed, which is heavily challenged. I believe that both (1) and (2) should be debated on its on.The arguments presented in (2) went on a convoluted journey of discovering whether STPM is ipso facto flawed in its nature which is passionately challenged by many people commenting below, who disagree mainly with the bias tone developed in the authors many rhetoric. I wonder why Cass Shan did not vehemently opposed to abolish matriculation as well instead machine-gunning every aspect of STPM.

      Nevertheless, the progress of this article did not solve no. (2).I believe Passerby's response provided a better understanding in the purpose of education. And its not the about which standardized test is better ~ In fact, I suggest readers to look into the Socratic Method adopted by Socrates. The socratic Method is now used by many sectors who realised that conventional education systems are no more applicable. Law schools in the US use these methods to teach.

      I hope part 3 will be more insightful as to the important issues in institutional racism instead of peripheral issues i.e. how bad is STPM students and how worse they have turned out to become.


      Passerby 2

    2. Dear Passerby,

      Thank you for a very coherent and logical response.

      As I had mentioned above, the initial part 3 which was already written, repeated a lot of what you have mentioned. In fact, I had even – coincidentally – cited Steve's Jobs who dropped in courses of his choice and proved the success of that approach.

      My issue, is 'institutionalised racism' yes – but ALSO the flawed education system we have for poorer students. Having said that – I can easily ask for the abolishment of matrikulasi too (which I implied when I seek a universal pre-u qualification)

      I argue for CAL to be implemented – at the governmen's cost – not because I'm under the assumption that a paper qualification denotes intelligence. Nor do I subscribe to any 'particular' education system being the 'best' in the world.

      Rather, for the precise reasons that you mentioned, I supported the implementation of CAL. Did you realise that STPM offers a 'limited' amount of knowledge to be learnt (and score A if a poor student needs a scholarship) while CAL offers at least 48 subjects? The fact that you see my point goes on to support my cause that students shouldn't be limited in their education – and should be given the opportunity to explore more subjects in their pre-u days – preferably subjects they're actually interested in.

      While learning Biology despite doing Law can be a good thing, how many other poorer students failed to secure a scholarship (or entry into uni) post STPM because they failed to score a straight A or good results – not because they were stupid – but because they don't have the aptitudes for certain limited subjects offered in STPM? Like you said, there's more to learning than an exam (result), so why is students being forced to excel at subjects that they may not be wired (nor passionate about) for and failing to do so cost them a space in uni?

      If they had more choices in subjects, they could choose the subjects they had aptitudes for and/or that they are interested to learn – even if that subject had no relation to their major or career. Then, they would actually have the liberty to learn for the sake of learning – motivated by a thirst for knowledge – which you and I agree on.

      A commentor above showed that the subject combination she took (in A Levels) rightly encouraged broadening one's knowledge; by combining Biology and Psychology – BUT that is NOT an available option to STPM students. STPM students, as I mentioned, are usually confined by Science and Arts stream. So, there she is, encouraging people to mix Science and Arts subjects – which I don't discourage – and yet our STPM doesn't allow for that very thing she (and you) are propogating – such as take up Psychology because it is not offered..

      I am actually baffled as to why people like you an Miss Kamilia who prove the relevance of her own A levels – only to tell people not to do what she did – and indirectly, categorically deny others the chance to do what she did by encouraging an education system that clearly doesn't promote what she preaches.

      Do you think with an option of 48 subjects, if CAL was offered, students will still opt for the limited number of subjects offered by STPM (due to thirst for learning?) For everyone that wants to do Biology, there's someone else denied the opportunity to do Media Studies, Fashion Design, Sociology, Psychology and other subjects that CAL offers.

      Do you see how the STPM examination stops people from practising what the both of you preached?

      1. Hi there,

        I think you have misconstrued Passerby and Passerby 2's main point. They are saying that education should not be placed on the yardstick of a standardized examination. The focus should be – on being a hippie !! yaaay

  6. I agree with Kamilia. I wish to further support her claim with some real life examples:

    During my STPM period, besides studying madly, I was involved in drama and music. I joined musicals and sang in a live bands. Joined marathons, throw javelins and swam.

    My STPM comrades:

    One of them spends his time gaming and playing basketball. He is now studying to become dentist.

    One of them immerse herself in anime and robots. She teaches part-time at a tuition center. She is studying to become an engineer.

    One of them spends her spare time helping out her family's food business. Now she is reading law.

    Another does part time modelling whilst studying for STPM.

    Some of them didn't continue their studies and are excelling at work.

    How many STPM students who excelled had time to paint, play sports actively or start a business?

    I don't think I will answer this question because its so void its like sounds from an empty vessel.

    I do not condemn your opinion of STPM but I do realise that the ideas and arguments presented are grounded on a very weak premise. Critical thinking is not a stand-alone. The factual circumstances that shapes a person's opinion, at the very least, must be accurate and not mere hearsay or assumptions.


    1. Dear Maggie;

      For the sake of debate and the interest that this particular issue has brought up; allow me to make some comparisons: (trust me that these are neither hearsay nor assumptions)

      STPM students – non-STPM students

      1) write for an online student magazine – author a fiction book to be published
      2) drama and music, – win an award at a film festival
      3) gaming and basketball – win an international gaming championship competition
      that included a cash prize of 4 figures USD and travel
      4) teach part time at a tuition centre – teach full time at a language centre while helping to
      develop the syllabus
      5) help family's food business – individually start and run a company from scratch
      6) part time modelling – win a beauty contest and an endorsement deal

      While I refrain from calling your arguments an empty vessel, I think this is food for thought. I half expect more achievements from STPM students will be brought up in retaliation to this post – but I won't continue with the debate. The fact that STPM students generally don't hold a full time job itself mean poor students don't get the chance to earn money while pursuing this pre-U.


      1. Hi cass shan,

        No offense, but this response reminded me of Tee Lin Say's attack on fat people.

        I responded to your question "How many STPM students who excelled had time to paint, play sports actively or start a business?" to show you that STPM do excel at other things besides studying. I am NOT contending that STPM is better than A levels or try to prove "superiority" in the STPM exam.

        But you clearly made into a "I am so much better than you" preposition. Again, I could give you a whole load of examples of successful people that studied in STPM but I think it would be humble for me to just leave it that way.

        Thomas Edison did NOT finish school. This did not make him fail as a person instead made him in a plethora of inspiration. In addition, I would like to comfort all STPM leavers not to be dissuade by any form of discouragement because to survive in this world, all is required is wisdom and knowledge. And rest assured, wisdom and knowledge are not dependent on A levels or STPM; it depends on one's positive attitude in life, one's hard work and one's humbleness.

        Anyway Cass Shan, it was great debating with you.

        P.s Your written language is beautiful :')

        Warmest Regards.


        1. Dear Maggie,

          I'm sorry if my points came across as 'I am a much better person than you statement'.

          I don't deny that wisdom and knowledge are different from paper qualification.

          My point was not to put your accomplishments down, but to encourage STPM takers to look at other options. This is important because most people who take STPM come from a poor background – and my examples was meant as an inspiration to poor people to study while earning a living – something difficult to do with STPM.

          I don't deny that there are successful STPM alumnis, my point was merely to showcase what could be accomplished during the pre-u days for poorer students whom earning an income could mean a lot.

          Thanks for taking part in this debate! It helps students contemplating STPM to look and think through issues pertaining them when commenters like yourself participate and bring up issues to be discussed.


  7. Dear Cass,

    It seems, that you had totally misunderstood my statement of “The day when students prefer STPM to other private courses is the day we see our malaysian education succeed”.

    I never mentioned STPM was the perfect system, the one of it all. It is based on the British education system and philosophy. You of all people would understand the massive divide between British and American education philosophy, both having its pros and cons.

    There is no perfect system, even the "best" system we create is full of flaws, such is human. I do not wish to debate with you further, seeing how Kamilia had already done so (unless of course you post a reply to her and others, can't wait for Getting Rid of STPM, Part 3). But I ponder at your insistence as to why we should use current systems in place. Why can't we create something even "better" than current systems in place? I even daresay, why not make something "better" than even the Singaporean GCE A-Levels? The way I see it, STPM is somewhere there, all waiting to be refreshed with just some adjustments to make it extremely competitive with the "best" education systems out there. Notice that I always quote the word "better" or "best". It is impossible to define something as better or best. But I believe in one thing, choice. Assuming no constraints (hence the word prefer, instead of say the number of people enrolled in STPM. Prefer is assuming free choice, the numbers on the other hand is not all free choice), we naturally choose the one we think is better. Hence my statement, the day when students prefer STPM to other courses, is the day we see our education succeed.

    My point is simple, don't follow and repeat (the typical Malaysian mentality). Create instead.

    1. Hi Ben G (and Maggie) (and Kamilia),

      Part 3 was already written. But I had so much material against Miss Kamilia's argument that it over-ran in word count. However, I realised I had spent too much time on the debate (which was so easily refutable to begin with) and that most STPM students only take it because they feel they have no other options (especially if they are poor). Hence, I am writing an article to help these students (watch out for it!). The article is already written and I'm editing it. You will find that it addresses the factors you brought up. Having said that, I'm glad there is a vibrant discussion and that Loyar Burok allows for expression of free speech.

      1. Sorry, that came across as rather condescending and I couldn't find the delete button.

        In any case, I had written too much material but eventually decided on a different approach. When the article comes out, see if you agree with me or if you have varying ideas of your own.


        1. Do save yourself from further embarrassment.
          Save the students who are taking one of the most recognised pre-undergraduate qualification?

          You are beginning to sound like an imbecile.

  8. "STPM imposes too much information in 1.5 years", reading together with your previous article "…STPM exams simply encourages the memorizing and regurgitating of information…", it somehow appeared to me that you are one such person who are actually into memorizing and regurgitating of information itself. To me personally, when you have so much to study, but lack of time, it is when you need to learn how to study smart but not merely memorizes everything and anything. It is here some kind of critical thinking skill too. Oh wait, I survived STPM years back! =P And quoting from your article itself, "How many STPM students who excelled had time to paint, play sports actively or start a business?".. Well, I dont paint, neither did I play any sports nor started a business back then, but I did my personal recording and editing! Something to my interest larh. =P The fact that I spent a lot of time therein, I beg to differ from your opinions portrait-ed in your article.(P.S. And I must say I did pretty well back then! =P)

    "Students are often forced to be in a certain stream to study STPM" – Adui, transfer to another school larh, what's the big deal? And pertaining CAL provides more subjects than STPM, I don't deny this point. However, to look from another angle, packages of STPM subjects covers quite a big range of potential-to-study-courses in Uni in the future. It even serves better great on people who don't have any ambition or idea of what they want to do later. Hence, in case they found some other interest in the midst of studies, they might still stand some possibility to opt for their new interest. In other words, it gives some "interlude" to discover your potential interest.

    Also, referring to your post, you were saying that you earned scholarship due to your hard work during highschool, well, congratulations, but mind you, there are also students with flying colours who weren't offered any scholarship. If you are really confident in your studies, to quote from your previous post : "It’s not because STPM is tough (possibly the toughest examination in the world) but because STPM is institutionalised racism designed to weed out bright non-Malay-Muslims out of a chance at tertiary education at a public university.", this itself should never really be a reason for one not to go for STPM. Because of the institutionalized racism that you are referring, you gave up the possibility that you might get into local uni? You are so blinded by it that you fail to see there are people, to highlight you, the non-Bumis (including me me me! =P), who got into the public uni and got the course that they/we wanted. I don’t deny the fact that there are also people who don’t get what they want, but again to relate back to what I have highlighted above, if you can get scholarship with your excellent SPM result, you can also try getting a scholarship should your STPM’s result is good too! Even if you don’t get one, at least it saved your parents some money on college. Since you got a so called scholarship for your college, this might not be applicable to you, but it does apply on most people.

    Just so you know, I was a STPM student, and I’m not anyhow jealous of college students! And I don’t think it is fair for you to comment on STPM when you yourself have not went through it. Your biased opinion might mislead the later batch of students.

  9. I made my best Malay friends during STPM. For the past 3 years, they've never failed to come to my house during CNY to Lou Sang and we've made it a point to continue this practice for as long as we could. I'm not stressing the fact my experience totally goes against – or to put it harshly, destroys – your notion of "Institutionalised Racism." What I want to say is that however bad (or good) the system may be, it still depends on our core values, perspectives and maturity in determining whether we're a racist.

    The more we realise something is flawed, the better our proofs would be if we have something beautiful. So having been among the fortunate ones who've never faced "Institutionalised Racism," I'm sure you have better experiences than me with regards to your relations with other races. Please share with us; a multiracial friendship that started in your Pre-U days, that still feels as close nowadays, and that you know will last till the end of days.

  10. For your information, the exam format for STPM has changed to Semester systems. The syllabus is not that heavy anymore. So I find your article redundant for the current batch of STPM students.

    1. I think the author needs to recheck the STPM system again coz the write is totally based on old STPM system

      And what about K11 and K12????Any comments

  11. Hi there,

    I believe that human rights is blown out of proportion in this matter. It is a subtle thing to quote the UDHR to support the very preposition that institutionalized racism should be abrogated. But it is another a leap of faith to seek to get rid of STPM/Matriculation and substitute it with A levels. For one, the STPM system has changed since 2012. I am going to paste a newspaper cutting here to enlighten you ( I think the borderline lies between maintaining the cost effectiveness of implementing the A levels program locally and seeking out the best possible solution to abrogate the industrialized nature of education. If critical thinking is priority, I think standardize examinations shouldn't exists in the first place. The educational systems in UK and US is similarly criticized by their own. Refer this : For all the reasons you put forward above, I think its a great leap of faith to relate institutionalized racism to adopting the A levels syllabus.

    Secondly, I will now deal with institutionalized racism and human rights. The right to education is not jus cogens in nature. It is not some one liner where we can just state it without due substantiation. Like every legal instrument, one must always look into the context and circumstances of its application with regard to the implementing country. It could be argued that certain affirmative actions are still necessary to ensure development but maybe a novation thereof is essential. Notwithstanding this, I believe the better approach, instead of justifying your position with human rights, is rather to seek a balance between a right to education and Art 153 of the constitution. I would not yodel too much about this as there are many debates about it still. Anyway, I liked the way you wrote the article. Please criticize any shortcomings or weak fallacy presented in my opinion. Have a nice day !

    1. Hi there,

      In response to your point:

      It must be noted that the Reid Commission reported that Tunku Abdul Rahman and the Malay Rulers had asked that "in an independent Malaya all nationals should be accorded equal rights, privileges and opportunities and there must not be discrimination on grounds of race and creed."
      In regards to quotas, The Reid Commission also found that However, "in due course the present preferences should be reduced and should ultimately cease."

      The Commission suggested that these provisions be revisited in 15 years, and that a report should be presented to the appropriate legislature and that the "legislature should then determine either to retain or to reduce any quota or to discontinue it entirely.

  12. "5) A-levels provide more subjects such as law, which the STPM doesn’t provide as an option. That in itself better prepares a student for his/her future vocation. How does doing chemistry help when one eventually applies for IT or other subjects unrelated to chemistry course? The subject options in the STPM are more rigid compared to those provided in A-levels."

    Here you sound completely unaware of the value of education beyond just preparing you for a job. Did you know that one of the most highly-valued attributes of the US education system, particularly liberal arts colleges, is the ability to learn for learning's sake, to enjoy education beyond your job or major scope? Students who study the liberal arts system in the US have to take classes from a wide variety – languages, sciences, humanities, etc. – and not all of them will relate directly to what job they choose later on, but nevertheless they all develop your ability to think critically. In other US universities students value the flexibility that the system affords them, because it allows them to take classes just to satisfy their curiosity – a student majoring in economics in the US would be able to take film studies classes as well, just for the fun of learning, and still come out with a BA in Economics.

    Also, the irony in your example is that UK universities actually DISCOURAGE you from taking A-level Law if you want to apply for Law at the undergraduate level – because Law is something you can be taught in university, universities prefer that you take a wide variety of A-level subjects to develop a strong foundation and good background knowledge for the degree. My combination, for example – Biology, Economics, Psychology and English Literature – is viewed as a good combination for law because it shows that I am willing to explore subjects beyond my comfort zone.

    1. Response:

      I must say that not doing the subject of which you intend to major in is a pretty stupid decision. There are many students who pursue a course they think they are interested in only to drop out later when they discover that the subject is not all they envisioned it would be.

      Also, STPM is a great curse to people with critical thinking skills but with aptitudes towards other subjects and not the ones offered in STPM.

      Ms Kamilia rightly pointed out that students should take up subjects for the sake of curiosity and learning – not just in preparation for a job – as all learning develops a person. Miss Kamilia pointed out that an Economics major in the US could take up film studies and still attain a BA in Economics. I whole heartedly agree that students should take up subjects that interest them for personal development! Have you noticed that CAL offers subjects in media studies (yes, you learn about making a short film!), Art (where you get to design clothes), divinity (studies on God), or even Food Studies! Thank you Miss Kamilia for proving my point! How many subjects are offered for STPM? The last I checked, they’re all ‘typical’subjects.

  13. 5) "A-levels provide more subjects such as law, which the STPM doesn’t provide as an option. That in itself better prepares a student for his/her future vocation. How does doing chemistry help when one eventually applies for IT or other subjects unrelated to chemistry course? The subject options in the STPM are more rigid compared to those provided in A-levels."

    You display clearly here that you have no appreciation for learning subjects that are not directly related to your major or your future job. Not everything has to relate directly for it to be useful. The humanities subjects, for instance – History, English Literature, Philosophy etc. are all subjects that have little direct practical application in the current job market, but are appreciated because they train students to think critically and creatively as well as argue their points well, skills which are applicable to many jobs – very few jobs ACTUALLY need you to know Aristotle's philosophy and such unless you are an academician, but people still learn these subjects because they perceive a value in the knowledge that extends beyond how applicable it is in the job market.

    Also, did you know that to apply for Law in the UK, they actually DISCOURAGE you from taking A-level Law as a subject? This is because universities actually prefer it if you take a wide range of A-level subjects that prepare you to think critically as well as have wide background knowledge, rather than specialising yourself too early by taking A-level Law. My A-level subject combination – English Literature, Biology, Psychology and Economics – is viewed as being an interesting and good combination for law because it gives me good background knowledge. Biology does not relate directly to law, but what if I learn Medical Law in university and I have to understand how the human body works in order to comprehend the reasonings behind the statutes properly? The things you learn will come into play even if they don't shout at you how exactly they are to be used.

    And since you love to mention the US so much, have you heard of liberal arts colleges in the US? Do you know how the US undergraduate programmes function, the much-valued flexibility that they offer? Students are drawn to the US education system because they are able to learn beyond the scope of their chosen major. A person who intends to major in economics, for example, may choose to take some classes in film studies – but what does film have anything to do with economics? Of course it doesn't directly relate, but it doesn't have to – students value this flexibility because they are able to simply enjoy learning, because they understand that there is so much more to education than just to prepare you for a job.

    Next time, please argue and think over your points carefully before you write them into an article. It is also inexcusable to directly attack readers commenting on your previous article. If you want to be a writer you have to be thick-skinned – feedback is useful but learn to not take everything personally, instead use the feedback as a means to re-examine your article and instead of attacking the person who criticised you, ask yourself, how can I improve my articles? I'm sorry, but I have read your previous article as well as this one, and both are poorly-researched with equally poorly-substantiated arguments. Your final paragraph is inexcusable as it is completely devoted to attacking a particular critic with a long rant about how hard you worked – but you are not here to rant, you are here to present your views, and if you want to do so and have people take you seriously, then you must do so professionally.

    1. Dear Miss Kamilia,

      Thank you for taking the time and effort to respond to my article.

      While I respect the right to free speech, your comments have in some occasion bordered on personal attacks. Have I, in some way or the past, hurt or offended you or any of your friends? If we have personal difference, I'd be happy to address it – away from this platform. As they say in a pub brawl 'Lets take it outside' :-P

      Feel free to contact me personally if you have anything against me and I'd be glad to address your concerns.


      1. Are you kidding, Cass Shan?

        Kamilia single handedly burnt your lousy, ill informed article to the ground with well articulated points and what do you do? You go down the pathetic road of trying to act like a poor little victim of personal attacks instead of trying to counter her arguments.

        Next time maybe you should research a subject matter carefully before trying to write about it.
        Reading your article and seeing your response to Kamilia, it appears that you are someone not to be taken seriously. More like a joke

        1. Just so you know, i tore Kamilia's arguments apart, but chose to take the high road. Since you insisted, here is parts of it:

          1) Lack of time
          To this, I have to break the news that writing for an online student magazine isn’t rocket science. As long as you can string two sentences together, you’re a writer. When I pointed out that STPM students don’t have time to develop their interest, I meant to do something substantial. (Check out my response below to comparisons between STPM students and non-STPM students.)

          2) International recognition
          Miss Kamilia then shoots herself in the foot by saying that Singapore universities actually prefer STPM to CAL. As we all know, Singapore is known for its over-emphasis on academic achievements.

          1. 3) Choices of Subjects
            STPM offers a small array of subjects to be taken with a lot of rigidity such as either option for the Science Stream or the Arts Stream. Miss Kamilia herself did Biology as well as Psychology and would not have been able to pursue her choices of subjects if it wasn’t because she did A-Levels and not STPM. (And so you have an no-STPM detractor who ran to do A –Levels herself – go figure).

            The last I checked, CAL offers at least 48 subjects (more if you count the variations) including subjects such as Divinity, Hindi, Media Studies, Law, Sociology, Music, Physical Education, Food Studies and Environmental Management (some of them as private students) – just to name a few.

            I must say that not doing the subject of which you intend to major in is a pretty stupid decision. There are many students who pursue a course they think they are interested in only to drop out later when they discover that the subject is not all they envisioned it would be.

          2. What a lousily argued rebuttal. It is not even worthy for me to continue this debate.
            Cass, you really need to improve the way you write.

          3. Wow, you call it lousy but had no reason to back up your claim. I don't even know what that says about your writing.

            I may disagree with you but I will defend your right to say it.


  14. You have obvious flaws in your article, and I have to point them out :

    1) "How many STPM students who excelled had time to paint, play sports actively or start a business?"

    This is a completely arbitrary and baseless statement, with no actual evidence to back it up. Have you actually spoken to many STPM students, and taken the time to find out how their lives are led? I know an STPM student who used to be a regular writer for an online students' magazine and she later went on to continue her studies in USM, so despite giving time to her interest she still achieved good results. There is no such thing as "not enough time for other things" – that only happens if you are completely incapable of managing your time wisely. It is impossible to devote all of your spare time to studying, even the most diligent of students must take time off to relax – and that is where they pursue their other interests.

    2) "Harvard and the National University of Singapore can accept STPM results BUT… Their country wouldn’t implement the STPM exam system themselves. And they are among the brightest in the world, so do you think STPM is still the best option?"

    In this sentence I can see that you are unable to find a way to degrade STPM further now that others have pointed out to you that it is in fact just as internationally-recognised as A-levels. In fact, Singaporean universities actually prefer STPM as compared to A-levels. The hierarchy of preferred qualifications for Singaporean universities goes Singapore-Cambridge A-levels > STPM > Cambridge A-levels > Other qualifications. As you are unable to actually attack this point, you choose to circumvent it by desperately trying to say that US and Singapore will never adopt STPM as their own (why should they when they have developed their own qualifications?) which thus makes STPM bad? I can't be the only one who sees the logic jump here. This brings me to my next point.

    3) Singapore-Cambridge A-levels is known for being notoriously difficult – even harder than STPM – but students still participate fully in student life. Granted, they do have an additional half a year to study, but given the fact that their syllabus is more rigorous than anything we could come up with, it just goes to show that balancing study and extracurriculars is all in your time management.

    4) "Also, a friend of mine who studied STPM mathematics went to uni to study IT (not a choice) and found the maths in uni easier than what she learned in STPM. My question is – if the subject is going to be taught in university-level, why teach it in STPM-level?"

    But I'm sure your friend appreciated that STPM prepared her well for university life, am I correct?

    1. I totally agree with you!
      In fact, I involved in many sports activities during my STPM period~ Even more than my secondary school period~
      Yes, STPM has well prepared me in my degree study ! I appreciated it because it give me more time to do more deeper study or discovered new things when others still struggling to understand the basic things!
      I feel STPM is not as bad as the writer's opinions!

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