I believe that is what we all want to know. How would our boys and girls fare without interference from outside forces. That was why we asked for the selection criteria. In the SEA games selection we saw an IM fall to almost all if not all the juniors. So FIDE ratings don't mean much. Nor beating an IM or a GM on their way down.
I wont argue about Mark's performance at the last Malaysian Open. Actually he did very well if you really care to check. The point is he is still U18 and U20 number 2. And I hope even you won't say that was a fluke.
I agree with you that the Juniors can improve very fast but I wouldn't use you as a yardstick. I would use Asean, Asian Youth and even World Juniors as yardsticks. The Juniors are fighting in today's chess.
That is why FGM took a lot of pains to make sure that the GM we selected is still in the fight today. Today's world is very different Jimmy.
I think this year's National Juniors will be interesting. The technical gaps are almost closed. A way to see an even better fight is to limit it to only National Juniors. That's just a suggestion. It will be up to MCF.
An aside: Actually we did discuss an anomaly we found during Asian Youth. The 2100's, 2200's and 2300's there were of a completely different playing strength to the ones we experienced in the Malaysian Open. One Junior commented that those Juniors we fought were on their way up and so the ratings didn't reflect their true fighting strength. That is why I don't think Malaysia Open is a good measure. We need to benchmark against our peers and in today's world.
Note: Li Tian was at the last National Junior but he didn't shine. Can we now discount him? I don't think so. One glitch does not discount him. He is still a very talented junior. It will be our honour to fight him on a level field. And I wish him well. May the better chess player prevail. But I will not take any hanky panky lying down. I think you know that Jimmy.
That was what happened in Perak. We don't want to see the same thing on a National scale.
So since the ratings are not altogether reliable for many other reasons as well, like number of tournaments played etc., the best test to find the strongest junior is still the National Juniors of which Mark is currently number 2. And that my friend is still the reality.