`Time for both sides to sit down to fix dilapidated schools issue’

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Nov 9: Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei proposed today the setting up of a joint committee involving state and federal education ministries to solve dilapidated schools problem in Sarawak.

“I agree with (Assistant Minister of Education and Technological Research) Dr Annuar (Rapaee) that education should not be politicised. What we really need is sincerity from both sides since we have a new political landscape,” he told a press conference at the Media Centre of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN).

Wong said he had briefly conveyed this proposal to Dr Annuar, in which the latter also welcomed the idea in principle.

“I will try to work this out by channelling the proposal to the Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching. Hopefully, this can become a reality because we need to move on instead of quarrelling on the issue,” he said.

Wong addressing a press conference in the Media Centre.

Wong was responding to an interjection by Dr Annuar when presenting his debate speech on the State Budget 2019 earlier today. Dr Annuar had clarified on the number of dilapidated schools and that the RM100 million allocation under the Federal Budget 2019 was to repair dilapidated schools nationwide and not solely set aside for Sarawak.

“There was a discrepancy in the number as from the federal figure, it was 206 dilapidated schools, but from the chief minister’s budget speech, it was 1,020. That was such a huge discrepancy. As for allocation, the state said it needed so much money but federal said no need for such amount of money to be allocated,” he explained.

Instead of harping on this issue that has been a hot topic in the sitting for the past few days, Wong commended Dr Annuar for his move as it put a conclusion on the matter with emphasis that both sides must to sit down and put their heads together to resolve the problem for the sake of Sarawakian children.

“If we do not take this matter seriously and work something out, we will become a sinner for politicising this issue, because the lives and safety of teachers and students are at stake. They are studying in a very dangerous environment, where some of the buildings are not safe for occupancy,” he said.

Wong assured that a proposal would be done within next week before submitting to the Education Ministry for action.

“If it is not workable (proposal for the joint committee), at least both sides can sit down and work something out. But this is what I have to think of and we can offer.

“On the technical aspects as to how this joint committee can be formed, I leave it to the governments. So long we can find a solution, we need to proceed because this matter has persisted for generations, and we don’t want to waste more time on this,” he concluded. — DayakDaily