KUCHING: Sarawak said there would not have been any dilapidated schools in the state if it had been given 100% autonomy over educational matters.
Sarawak Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Michael Manyin also criticised DAP state chairman Chong Chieng Jen for politicising the issue of dilapidated schools.
He said Chong’s claim that the state government was making unlawful demands in terms of the allocation of funds had not solved the problem.
“Actually, all these shouldn’t have happened if only he had fulfilled his promise before the election of giving Sarawak 100% autonomy over its education matters,” he told reporters after the launching of the Mind and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) event by Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg here today.
“Education should not be politicised because at the end of the day, the children will suffer.”
Manyin urged the finance ministry to expedite approval of the RM1 billion meant for repair of dilapidated schools, to be deposited in a special account managed by the federal and state governments.
Earlier, Chong had accused the state government of making unlawful demands in terms of the allocation of funds which had delayed the repair of the schools.
“For Abang Johari or Manyin to suggest other mechanisms of allocation is tantamount to asking the finance ministry to do something illegal and unconstitutional,” Chong said.
“As the chief minister and state finance minister, Abang Johari should know that the legal mechanism suggested by the finance ministry is the rightful legal procedure for any allocation.”
The finance ministry had said last weekend the RM1 billion funding meant to repair the schools was subjected to four prescribed legal mechanisms.
First, the Sarawak government must deposit RM1 billion from its total debt to Putrajaya to the Federal Government Consolidated Fund, in line with the law and the Federal Constitution.
Second, the federal government will channel the same amount as allocation for use to repair the dilapidated schools in Sarawak.
Third, the repair works should be offered by open tender to ensure transparency and fair value, based on the current federal government’s financial arrangements.
Fourth, the federal government is willing to take into account the views of the Sarawak government with regard to which schools should be given priority for repairs.
Following this, Abang Johari said the Sarawak government “had already discussed” with the federal government through Education Minister Maszlee Malik the proposed RM1 billion “contra loan” to be allocated for the school repairs.