Burnt teachers’ quarters not dilapidated, clarifies Manyin

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KUCHING, July 26: Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong urges the Federal Ministry of Education to honour the promise made by the previous government to look into the repair and rebuilding of dilapidated schools in Sarawak to prevent any mishaps from happening in the future.

He told reporters that he had written a letter to the Ministry of Education last year, before the change of government, and hoped that the current Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government would look what was promised by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government, which was to grant funds to repair and rebuild dilapidated schools in the rural areas of Sarawak.

“We have identified most of the dilapidated schools in Sarawak. There are 1,454 of them, where out of that 415 are critically dilapidated and beyond repair — need to be rebuilt.

“We have written to the Ministry of Education last year before the change of government, and we believe and hope the PH federal government would honour the pledge made by the previous government,” Manyin told reporters while waiting for the remains of teacher Catherine Janet Tiwi, 25, who perished when fire destroyed the teachers’ quarters at SK Batu Bungan in Mulu yesterday.

Manyin (second left) trying to console Catherine’s grieving father Tiwi Nios (left) after her casket arrived at the MAScargo complex near Kuching International Airport this evening.

Asked if the dire conditions of the teachers’ quarters might have been the cause of the fire, Manyin brushed it off, saying that the quarters were relatively new — only 10 years old — and was recently renovated.

“The actual fact is the burnt quarters aren’t that old and not dilapidated. It is only about 10 years old and has been renovated recently. They are not dilapidated,” he said.

Asked for details of the fire which killed Catherine and critically injured two other teachers, Manyin said the three were not from that school, and was in fact participating in a motivational camp for pupils who would be sitting for their UPSR examinations at the end of this year.

“Unfortunately the fire happened, and Catherine perished while saving her friends,” he said.

On that note, Manyin said the state government had initiated a donation drive to help the grieving family of Catherine as well as the two injured teachers who are now housed at the Sarawak General Hospital’s intensive care unit.

“We are setting up a donation drive. The Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg yesterday initiated the donation drive by pledging RM50,000. Then today Sarawak Timber Association pledged RM30,000. All in all at the moment we have RM80,000.

“We hope other individuals and corporate bodies can chip in for this donation drive for Catherine and also the two other teachers who were critically injured in the fire,” he said.

Manyin went on, saying that his ministry would be investigating if Catherine really did go into the burning building to save her teacher friends, and if so, would properly acknowledge her bravery.

“If so, it is something we need to consider because it is an act of bravery and showing her love to her friends by sacrificing her own life,” he said. — DayakDaily