Tuesday, July 15, 2008

ADUN Banned from School Reunion (II) - Minister's Reply

As promised, I raised the issue with regards to the state assemblywoman for Subang Jaya, Hannah Yeoh, being prevented from attending even her own prefects' reunion of her secondary school, SMK Subang Utama, just because she doesn't obviously belong to the "right" party.

The Deputy Minister for Education, Dr Wee Ka Siong who kindly waited for me in parliament late in the evening despite the absence of opposition MPs in the afternoon yesterday, replied to my question posted here.

In a gist, his reply stated and insisted that:
  1. No one is barred from attending functions in schools, including opposition MPs or non-Barisan Nasional ADUNs. Specifically Hannah was never "banned" from the prefects' reunion.

  2. There is however a circular which reinforces the need for prior permission to be obtained from the state education authorities before VIPs are allowed to be present in the school.
I disagree with the bureaucratic approach of "approving" VIPs, but I leave the issue aside first. Hence based on the above expected reply, there can only be a few possibilities:
  1. The Ministry of Education is lying that no instructions were given.

  2. The principal of SMK Subang Utama is lying that instructions were given.
I spoke to the Deputy Minister privately after the session and informed him that the principal sepcifically told Hannah that she is not permitted to attend the prefects' reunion held outside the school under instructions from the Ministry.

And I specifically asked him that if no such instructions were given, is the principal in error, and have clearly made judgement calls beyond his or her authority, which has resulting in the ridiculous situation of Hannah forbidden from attending a private function held by her own alumni. He replied affirmative, and he said that he'll have a word with the principal (which I hope he'll carry out).

He also added that we can take his parliamentary reply to the principal and insist to any other principal that non-BN MPs and ADUNs being "banned" from schools is not the policy of the Ministry and demand the necessary corrections. Alma maters of SMK Subang Utama are hence encouraged to write to the principal citing his reply on the matter to reprimand the principal for abusing his/her authority.

In future, should any parent face similar problems, please let me know in advance (with details) such that I can obtain the necessary clarification or even approval from the Ministry of Education.

Below is the Deputy Ministers' reply in full (you can also check out the Hansard, pg 186):
Tuan Yang di-Pertua, pada kesempatan ini izinkan saya memberi penjelasan terhadap perkara yang telah dibangkitkan oleh Yang Berhormat Petaling Jaya Utara berkaitan dengan undangan menghadiri majlis rasmi di sekolah. Tuan Yang di-Pertua, Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia telah mengeluarkan beberapa pekeliling berkaitan dengan undang kepada tetamu kehormat ke majlis-majlis rasmi di sekolah.

Antaranya Surat Pekeliling Ikhtisas Bilangan 10/1989, Atur cara Majlis Rasmi Sekolah bertarikh 5 Oktober 1989, Surat Pekeliling Ikhtisas Bilangan 3/1991, mengundang orang-orang kenamaan ke upacara sekolah, institusi pendidikan bertarikh 16 Mei 1991 dan yang terbaru berhubung dengan perkara ini adalah Surat pekeliling Ikhtisas Bilangan 3/2008, mengundang orang-orang kenamaan ke upacara sekolah dan penggunaan premis sekolah yang bertarikh 31 Mac 2008.

KPM sedia maklum dalam kalendar sekolah lazimnya terdapat beberapa peristiwa
tertentu yang dianggap penting serta diberi keutamaan sebagai majlis rasmi sekolah. Di antara majlis tersebut termasuklah Hari Anugerah Kecemerlangan, Hari Terbuka Sukan Tahunan dan Mesyuarat Agung PIBG yang kesemuanya melibatkan kehadiran jemputan khas, sering kali pihak sekolah akan mengundang pembesar-pembesar negeri, orang-orang kenamaan, wakil rakyat ataupun pegawai kanan jabatan atau kementerian untuk merasmikan majlis tersebut.

Mengenai dakwaan Ahli Yang Berhormat, berhubung dengan larangan wakil rakyat menghadiri majlis pertemuan semula ataupun reunion pengawas sekolah tersebut, seperti yang telah saya jelaskan pada ucapan penggulungan Kajian Separuh Penggal yang lalu, bahawa setakat ini Kementerian Pelajaran tidak pernah mengeluarkan arahan secara spesifik yang melarang Ahli Parlimen atau wakil rakyat pembangkang untuk menyertai ataupun memasuki sekolah untuk menyertai program tersebut.

Namun untuk makluman Ahli Yang Berhormat, KPM telah menetapkan bahawa semua majlis rasmi di sekolah yang melibatkan majlis perasmian oleh orang-orang kenamaan atau individu-individu tertentu hendaklah mendapat kebenaran daripada KPM melalui pengarah
pelajaran negeri masing-masing terlebih dahulu bagi memastikan majlis yang dianjurkan bukan untuk tujuan politik serta tidak mengganggu pengajaran dan pembelajaran murid.

Sehubungan dengan itu, perkara ini usahlah dipolitikkan kerana apa yang paling penting adalah untuk memastikan institusi pendidikan berjalan dengan baik dan tidak dipengaruhi dengan unsur-unsur yang boleh merosakkan pemikiran murid-murid.

Jika kita benar-benar ikhlas dalam membangunkan institusi pendidikan, sama-samalah kita mencari satu jalan untuk menyumbang kepada perkara-perkara yang memberi kebaikan dan faedah untuk anak-anak kita. Sekian, Terima kasih.

I will also discuss with Hannah on the next steps, on whether this issue needs to be pursued further. ;-)


Anonymous said...

Then she should seek explanation from DSAI because the whole idea of banning politicians into school was DSAI brainchild idea.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tony,
Totally ridiculous reply from the dep. minister. He doesn't seem to understand that it is a private function, not a formal one! Why should we need an approval if it is a private function? Doublespeak & standard reply from a half-past six government!!!
I strongly urge you to pursue this matter and get a solid, intelligent reply from the ministry. Oh, I forgot...intelligent and the ministry of education is an oxymoron...
Let's cut to the chase, ask the hon dep. minister to clarify and say outright, "Yes, we do ban opposition politicians from attending ANY functions related to schools regardless whether they are private or official." A pretty arrogant statement I must admit but hey, it's the truth!

Anonymous said...

Tony, maybe Hannah should just invite her former mates to meet at her place or some kind of function.

To dani, seek DSAI's explanation, yes, but I would also say that this is typical of BN's style of politicising the school education. DSAI was at that time still in umno when that came about. The more important question is whether now they will change it, or just continue with it and so conveniently blaming DSAI. If a policy is not good, then change it, but will they?

Kian Tong said...

Simply childish. The hope to see greater maturity among our policymakers within the Federal Govt remains a dream.

About 20 years ago, when I was still a kid, I studied in a primary school located within the Bukit Bintang constituency. Lee Lam Thye (now Tan Sri) was then the MP of Bukit Bintang. Coincidently, he was also the PTA Chairman. Soon after, his son completed his primary education and left the said primary school, but the school has continued to invite Lee Lam Thye for all school functions, not as a PTA Chairman but as the MP of Bukit Bintang. Remember, he was a DAP politician then.

I was too young then to note if Anwar Ibrahim has ever made rulings about banning opposition politicians from attending school functions, but he was the Minister of Education then when I could catch a glimpse of Lee Lam Thye a few times every year in school.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony,
Why do we always have to go to Parliament to have a simple policy clarification on a basic issue of visitation rights.
Why can't the education ministry post all policy circulars in their website so that this sort of thing does not have to go to parliament which should be discussing bigger issues like the corruption of the police force and the independence of the AG office and the judiciary etc.
Perhaps this suggestion should be made for all ministries.