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Routine transfer or political victimisation?

November 18, 2017

Deputy Education Minister comes under fire for justifying transfer of headmistress, saying it had nothing to do with Lim Guan Eng's visit to the school.

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By P Ramasamy

The deputy minister of education has proven once again he is the greatest apologist for the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

Lately, he defended the Penang education department’s transfer of SRJKT Mak Mandin’s headmistress V Tamilchelvi as a routine exercise, saying it had nothing to do with the visit of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to the school recently.

Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan, in refuting allegations that Tamilchelvi was transferred out of the school because of Lim’s visit, said that since October 2, seven school heads had been transferred out of Tamil schools in Penang (he provided the list).

So, as far as Kamalanathan is concerned, the transfer of Tamilchelvi was a routine/procedural exercise by the Penang education department and had nothing to do with politics.

Lim visited the school a few weeks ago with some members of the Penang state government to announce a financial allocation of RM110,000 for the school building and a kindergarten.

The school head had nothing to do with the visit and was not even present when Lim was there. Lim was in fact invited by members of the board of trustees of the Mak Mandin Tamil school.

Since the school is located in Lim’s parliamentary constituency, he had all the right to make that visit.

Over the last nine years or so, the Penang government had made substantial contributions to the development of Tamil schools in the state.

Kamalanathan might appear to be hardworking, but he has emerged in recent years as a blind defender of the Umno-led government.

He has blindly defended the wrongs of the education ministry on various matters. Whether right or wrong, he thinks that it is his profound duty to defend the ministry.

While Kamalanathan defended the transfer of Tamilchelvi as something routine, he failed on two counts.

First, he failed to explain why this was Tamilchelvi’s second transfer in a short span of only one year or so.

Earlier, she was transferred out of SRJKT Bukit Mertajam because I had visited the school upon the invitation of the school’s parent-teacher association. I was there to ensure association members that a construction nearby would not affect the school in a negative way.

Within a matter of weeks and as a result of complaints lodged by some BN-friendly parties, Tamilchelvi was transferred to the Mak Mandin Tamil school. She was hardly a few months in this school, when she was again transferred after Lim’s visit.

Second, Kamalanathan, in his zeal to defend the transfer, failed to acknowledge that Tamilchelvi was subject to “interrogation” by state education department officials before the transfer order was communicated to her.

She was asked why Lim was invited and whether she was aware of the visit. She denied any involvement in the matter, since it was the school board and not her who invited Lim, and she was not even present during his visit.

She was also asked why she did not order security personnel on duty to lock the school gates if she had known about the visit.

Since the officials were not convinced with her replies, they took the decision to teach her “a lesson” by transferring her to a school in Prai, with a lower student enrolment and without a reputation of a premier Tamil school like the one in Mak Mandin.

However, even if the transfer was routine, it was certainly a demotion for an excellent headmistress like Tamilchelvi to be transferred from a leading Tamil school in the state to a smaller school with lower enrolment.

Can Kamalanathan deny the above?

Does he know what actually transpired before he jumped the gun to defend the transfer as a routine exercise?

This transfer by the Penang’s education department makes a mockery of academic excellence in the country.

P Ramasamy is Penang deputy chief minister II.

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

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