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Association calls for review of directive to bar opposition from schools
Posted on : 02 Dec 2019  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Association calls for review of directive to bar opposition from schools POSTED ON DECEMBER 2, 2019, MONDAY AT 12:06 AM

Jonathan Chai

KUCHING: The Sarawak United Association of Chinese Primary Aided Schools Board of Management is appealing to the federal government and Ministry of Education (MoE) in particular to review the recent directive to bar opposition ministers and elected representatives from attending school events.

The association’s secretary-general Jonathan Chai said such policy would unnecessarily place various school boards and the Sarawak Education Department in a predicament.

He said he was given to understand that a recent circular on the matter, issued by the MoE to the state Education Department, district education officers as well as principals and headmasters, stated that the federal cabinet had decided that all federal government projects and programmes in all opposition states including Sarawak, had to be officiated by the federal government whether by the cabinet, Chief Secretary, MPs or federal department heads.

“Following the federal cabinet decision, the MoE insists that all schools’ official invitation letters must be sent through or be carbon-copied to the state Education Department.

“All uncertainties in terms of decisions faced by schools will be required to be referred to the Education Department of the state,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday when prompted for comments on the recent directive by the ministry.

According to Chai, the circular stated that whenever ‘outsiders’ are invited to school functions, there must be prior permission from the state Education Department.

However, he disclosed that a recent dialogue between the association and Sarawak Education director Dr Azhar Ahmad had clarified that it would not be a total ban by the MoE.

“The director of Education never stated that it would be a total ban by the ministry to disallow all opposition ministers and elected representatives to attend school functions.”

Hence, Chai said if a school wanted to invite an opposition minister or elected representative – in Sarawak’s case, those from Gabungan Parti Sarawak – the school would have to apply to the state Education Department for permission, with the department then deciding whether to approve the application or set conditions for approval.

“Of course, following the issuance of such directive, it would make it difficult for the schools to invite the state leaders to officiate their functions or activities in schools,” he said.

In this regard, Chai felt the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government should adopt a more ‘open and gentleman’ approach in the face of shaping a ‘New Malaysia’.

“I understand that under the previous administration, opposition members were not allowed to enter schools for any function. The new government should not ‘reciprocate’ by adopting an antagonistic stance or vengeful approach in dealing with education issues.

“Any wrong done or bad policy formulated by the previous government should not be repeated by the new government,” he said.

As such, he said it would be ideal for members of both political divides to cooperate and work together in the interest of the students and community, especially in the area of education.

“A breath of fresh air is much needed for our nation and educational issues should not be politicised in the interest of this country.