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KUCHING, Nov 20: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii does not agree that opposition lawmakers must obtain approval from the education authorities before they are allowed to visit schools.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said in Parliament yesterday that there was no change to the old circular issued by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government that requires the opposition to apply to the Ministry of Education if they want to visit a school even in their constituency.
A number of Pakatan Harapan MPs, including Dr Yii, have expressed their reservations towards such a circular and approached Maszlee to reconsider and not to abuse it.
“While this does not mean that the opposition elected representatives are totally banned from entering the schools as the ministry can approve their application, I am against the circular if it is used as a blanket ban to disallow opposition members from entering.
“I believe any elected representative, whether from the opposition or the government, should not be hindered from serving their constituency or attending to the needs of the schools in their area.
“While I understand that this is just a continuance of the old policy and there is also a need to protect the schools from any political activities from any divide, but no elected representatives should be hindered from carrying out their responsibilities to their constituents,” Dr Yii said in a statement today.
He opined that although there was still a need to seek permission or notify the ministry of any visit as they could not just simply walk in and out of a school, it should be a mere ‘notification’ and not an excuse to disallow any elected representative from carrying out their responsibilities as practised by the previous BN administration.
However, exceptions have to be made for “acute” cases or urgent needs, including addressing needs in case of a disaster like fire, where there might not be enough time for an application or to issue a notice.
Dr Yii added that a notice could also serve as a monitoring mechanism that there should not be any politicking, especially towards the students and teachers, in the school from any side of the political divide.
“The ministry will then investigate on a case-by-case basis if there are any elected representatives who abused their visits to campaign or run political activities in the schools,” he explained.
Under the previous BN administration, many opposition members were banned from entering schools even though they made the necessary applications.
Dr Yii cited that one of their MPs was also banned from entering the school to attend her school’s Alumni Day just because she was a member of the opposition. She was a student and head prefect of that school.
“That is why I hope the ministry will not use this as a reason to ban opposition members from carrying out their duties. If there are legitimate reasons given for their visit, they should be allowed to go in and the ministry should facilitate any elected representatives to serve their constituency for the best interest of the people,” he said.
He believed the Pakatan Harapan government should not use the practices of the BN as the yardstick but set their own standards for the betterment of the people and nation. — DayakDaily