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Let’s be logical about school visits by CMs and MBs

September 12, 2017

Has any other head of a state government ever been denied entry to a school without the express permission of the education minister, and can we have a list of those who had applied previously to visit schools?


schoolBy TK Chua

I refer to the news item, “CM needs permission from education ministry to visit schools”.

Malaysia is a federation. We have federal, state and local governments with each given specific jurisdictions and responsibilities as spelt out in the 9th Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

The different tiers of government are supposed to work together for the benefit of the country despite the different jurisdictions and responsibilities.

To me, it is quite inconceivable that a state’s Menteri Besar (MB) or Chief Minister (CM), duly elected by the people of the state, must request permission from the federal minister of education before visiting a school. I think this is a violation of the spirit of federalism. I think this is even misuse of power. In some other federations, education is, in fact, a state matter.

By visiting a school, there is no way a MB or CM could dictate the education policy of the state. By visiting a school, there is no way a MB or CM could give specific orders to the headmaster and teachers to contradict the orders from the education minister. Education is a federal matter and there are no powers or jurisdictions conferred on MBs or CMs on education. So what exactly is the permission from the education minister for?

When the education minister considers the application from a MB or CM to visit a school, what factors or criteria is he considering? Under what conditions would he approve or withhold his approval? It would be good to hear from the education minister.

The MBs and CMs are also leaders duly elected in our democracy. Visiting schools and encouraging and promoting education are very much part of the job of any leader. Why do they need special approval from the education minister to perform their leadership role?

According to news reports, all MBs and CMs need approval, not just the CM of Penang. Apparently, the CM of Penang did not seek the approval and, therefore, was denied entry to a school in Sungai Lembu, Bukit Mertajam, recently. So far, it seems only the CM of Penang is having this problem.

Be that as it may, can we have a list of all MBs and CMs who have sought approval from the education minister prior to Lim Guan Eng being denied entry to a school in his own state?

Have there been rejections of MBs or CMs other than Lim before this because no permission was sought or granted earlier? I sincerely hope Lim is not the only CM or MB denied entry to a school thus far.

It is hard for many to conceive that a visit by a state’s CM or MB to any school in the state could be deemed detrimental to education, the school, or public interest. I think we need to be logical about this.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.


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