By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Dec 6: Sarawak education minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong has refuted claims that there was no prohibition against lawmakers from the state ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) to attend official school functions.
He said that he has written to Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik for a meeting this month to address the Education Department circulars, which restricted opposition lawmakers from visiting schools.
Manyin, who is the state Education, Science and Technological Research Minister, rubbished claims by Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen that there was no such restriction.
“Chong is trying to touch on (matters of) other ministries. I don’t know whether he knows what is going on (or not).
“I don’t know why he likes to talk about other ministries. Why don’t he talk about his own ministry. As a minister, there is a ‘rule of thumb’ that you don’t touch on other ministries,” he told reporters today.
He was responding to recent news reports, in which Chong said that the Pakatan federal government did not impose any prohibition against opposition elected representatives to enter schools for official business, but schools have to seek prior permission as part of the procedure.
Chong, who is also Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, was reported as saying that opposition lawmakers can visit the schools after the state Education Department gave permission to the principals and headmasters to allow entry.
The Stampin MP said the rule also applies to Pakatan lawmakers.
He added that there were 515 permissions granted to GPS and Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) lawmakers compared to 170 permissions granted to state Pakatan lawmakers to enter schools to officiate events over the past one year.
However, Manyin explained that there were two circulars sent to the Education Department, in May and November this year.
“The two circulars stated that if we want to go to any schools, we need to get permission from the director of education. If the director cannot give the permission, it has to be referred to the Ministry of Education.
“He (Chong) doesn’t know what is going on and he doesn’t know there were two circulars,” he claimed.
Manyin added that the circulars also hinted that opposition lawmakers can visit schools but not allowed to make speeches and are encouraged to contribute to schools.
“I have brought this up to the state Cabinet in the last meeting, and the Cabinet directed me to meet the minister of education and see how it can be reviewed.”
He also rebutted Chong’s claims that GPS leaders had brought party flags and gave political speeches when officiating the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) events.
On the circular, Manyin felt such decision by the federal government was unfair to state elected representatives who had contributed immensely to the development of schools and education in Sarawak.
“Up to today, all the YBs have used some of the allocations from their MRP (Minor Rural Project) and RTP (Rural Transformation Programme) to help, especially primary schools, which have not enough funding through the PTAs,” he said.
Earlier, Manyin represented Sarawak Research Development Council (SRDC) to sign an agreement with collaborators Curtin Biovalley Sdn Bhd and the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, respectively. — DayakDaily