MP Chua wants probe into teacher witch-hunt
A letter issued by a Tawau district education officer directing school
principals to weed out opposition supporters among its teachers has stirred
outrage in Sabah
TAWAU, Mar 11, 2012: A member of parliament here has called for an enquiry into
a Sabah Education Department witch-hunt to weed out teachers who do not support
the Barisan Nasional government.
Opposition MP, Chua Soon Bui, said she was taken aback that the education
department officers had taken on the role of political commissars for the BN
government and were actively spying on the political leanings of teachers and
principals in the district.
Chua comments come after it was exposed that Tawau district education officer,
Darman Shah Asakil, in an official letter, had instructed principals to classify
teachers into three categories: White, Grey and Black.
According to a political blog called Ameno World which uploaded the letter,
Darman had instructed principals to categorise teachers who supported government
policies and were grateful to the Umno-BN government as 'White'.
"Those criticising government policies and known to support the opposition were
to be classified in the 'Grey' category and teachers who are members of
opposition parties and are openly convincing other teachers to question
government policies are to be categorised as 'Black'," Darman said in the
Darman, however, did not explain why the exercise was necessary but stated that
it was a decision made during a meeting with the Sabah state education
department on Feb 29.
The Tawau Education Department top official also warned that the list had be
prepared by the principals themselves and that the exercise was classified under
the Official Secrets Act.
Chua described the 'directive' as an outrage and said she had informed deputy
education minister Wee Ka Siong to call for an inquiry.
She said Darman's irresponsible actions had created unnecessary pressure and
tension for school principals and teachers in Tawau.
"Isn't his action seditious? Being a senior officer in education, he should
understand democracy and the rights of citizens," she said yesterday, adding
that the ministry should investigate his motive.
She said such insidious tactics were reprehensible and wanted to know whether
the government concurred with his action.
The Tawau MP also asked if this meant that the Ministry of Higher Education was
rethinking an amendment to the law to allow university students above the age of
21 to take part in politics in the coming parliament session.
"We will wait for a public announcement from the ministry, otherwise it surely
will send a negative image to the people on the impending announcement by the PSC (Parliament Select Committee) on electoral reform in April," she said.
Darman has since said he has explained the matter to the Education Ministry and
was retracting his order.
Azman Habu, FMT
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