Sarawak reps must obtain permission to attend school functions

The circular in Bahasa Malaysia stating that ministers and elected representatives from the opposition need to apply for permission to attend school functions and events.

By Lian Cheng and Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Nov 30: The Ministry of Education (MoE) has made the decision that federal functions including those in schools are off-limits to ministers and elected representatives of opposition states including Sarawak.

Outsiders (anyone who are not from Pakatan Harapan) need to apply to the state Education Department to obtain permission to attend functions in all primary and secondary schools.

In a circular with reference number JPNSW.SPS.PP.100-1/7, MOE stated that on Sept 11, 2019, the federal cabinet has decided that all projects and programmes of the federal government in all opposition states including Sarawak, has to be officiated by the federal government whether by the cabinet, chief secretary, members of Parliament (MPs) or federal department heads.

Following the federal cabinet decision, MoE insisted that schools’ official invitation letters must be sent through or be carbon-copied to state Education Department. All uncertainties in terms of decisions faced by schools will needed to be referred to the state Education Department.

The circular also stated that whenever “outsiders” are invited to schools’ functions, there must be prior permission from state MoE.

On the issue, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) leader, who is very active in education said it was not a total ban by MoE to disallow all opposition ministers and elected representatives (in Sarawak’s case, it means Gabungan Parti Sarawak leaders) to attend school functions.

“It is not a total ban. If a school wants to invite an opposition minister or elected representative, the school can apply to state Education Department which will make a decision to whether approve it or set conditions for the approval.

“However, understandably, most applications will not be approved,” said the leader who preferred to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile, Marudi assemblyman Datu Dr Penguang Manggil, who admitted to have experienced the issue since last year, described such directive as “desperate and sick”.

“It is the schools which need our financial assistance. So we take pity on students and that’s why we assist. So, why should they banned us?

“If in fact the education ministry can do what we have been doing by contributing to the schools, then we don’t have to do it. But they can’t even carry out their responsibility, (and) that’s why we came into the picture all these while,” he said when contacted.

Penguang added that he was now compiling the amount of contributions from his Minor Rural Project (MRP) and Rural Transformation Programme (RTP) funds which he had donated to the schools in his constituency.

“In the last two years, I have assisted in building 10 multipurpose halls costing between RM180,000 -RM318,000 each. And I planned to build five more next year,” he pointed out.

Penguang, who is also Assistant Minister of Local Government, insisted that he helped the schools because he pitied the students who needed better learning environment.

“And we also assisted in extra curriculum activities to improve the quality of education in schools through various programmes organised by the various PIBG (Parents Teachers Associations) of respective schools,” he added.— DayakDaily