KUALA LUMPUR: Several opposition MPs today hit out at the education ministry for taking action against teachers seen to be critical of the government and supportive of the opposition.
They said the government should hear what the teachers had to say and view them as constructive criticism.
“To provide criticism is a good thing. Why is it that whenever people in Malaysia oppose (the government) we punish them?” asked Hanipa Maidin (Amanah-Sepang) in the Dewan Rakyat today.
He also questioned the move to slap show-cause letters on five teachers alleged to have criticised the government on an opposition platform, as reported by Berita Harian today.
The report quoted Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid as saying the five teachers had been given two weeks to respond to the letters.
Mahdzir had urged teachers who sided with the opposition and discredited the government to leave the civil service, citing rules under the General Orders.
“There is no necessity for these show-cause letters.
“It is time for us to tolerate such government officials. If they are discontented, we should hold discussions with them,” Hanipa said.
Fauzi Abdul Rahman (PKR-Indera Mahkota) quoted the late Abdul Razak Hussein, the second prime minister, as saying the role of civil servants was to provide a “check and balance”.
“Tun Razak had said before that public officials should be vocal with politicians and not allow themselves to be controlled by us (politicians).
“This was what Tun Razak said should be done, not intimidate government workers.”
Siti Mariah Mahmud (Amanah-Kota Raja) called on teachers to exercise caution in view of the increasingly “autocratic” nature of the government.
However, she also urged Mahdzir to stop interfering in teachers’ affairs outside school hours and instead focus his efforts on improving the quality of learning in schools.