DAP rep tells Maszlee to watch his words and get his priorities right in Sarawak

Chang urged Maszlee to verse himself well with the sentiments and the education needs of the people in Sabah and Sarawak. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Chang urged Maszlee to verse himself well with the sentiments and the education needs of the people in Sabah and Sarawak. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUCHING, Dec 20 ― DAP’s Bukit Assek state lawmaker Irene Mary Chang today told Education Minister Maszlee Malik to get his priority right by resolving problems relating to education and schools in Sarawak and Sabah, instead of making blundering statements from time to time.

She said he needs to resolve the problems without further delay if he wants to be able to deliver on all the education promises made before the 14th general election (GE14).

“It has been seven months since GE14. And if the time is still too short for his ministry to effect the major reforms needed, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, then the least he can do is not to make statements which offend the sentiments of the people, be it religious or cultural,” she said, referring to Maszlee’s  ”medan dakwah” statement.

Maszlee, when replying to a question in Parliament recently, urged religious teachers from Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah serving in Sarawak not to seek for transfer to peninsular Malaysia, and to consider Sarawak as “medan dakwah” for them to propagate the Islamic faith.

The Association of Churches in Sarawak is among those who had voiced their displeasure with Maszlee’s statement.

Chang said that Maszlee needs to address issues such as the education syllabus for both primary and secondary schools, the dilapidated schools in Sarawak and the recognition of Unified Examination Certificate for Chinese Independent Schools, with urgency.

“I urge him to make real progress on these education issues rather than making statements which either brink on irrelevant things like black shoes and swimming pools in hotels or which would offend the religious and cultural differences like the latest statement on ‘medan dakwah’,” she said.

Chang told Maszlee to verse himself well with the sentiments and the education needs of the people in Sabah and Sarawak.

She said the minister should know by now, judging by the unfavourable response to his statement, that Sarawak’s largely Christian community cannot accept religious propaganda happening to their children in schools.

Chang noted the law provides that religious conversion of children below 16 years old is only allowed with parental consent, pointing out that most parents are already very upset and wary when the previous Barisan Nasional government had allowed peninsular Malaysia religious teachers to convert students in schools in the past.

“There was a huge outcry against it every time it happened and I believe that all those discontentment and unhappiness among the Sarawakians had contributed to the downfall of the BN government,” she said.

With the new Pakatan Harapan government, Chang said the people are hopeful that what had been allowed to happen in the past would not be allowed to happen again.

She said Sarawakians are hopeful that the Education Ministry would focus and concentrate on improving the standard of education in the country.

“The ministry should not only not venture into sensitive issues but should also actively ensure that no one is allow to use schools as a platform to propagate issues which would touch on the sensitivities of the people of Sarawak,” she said.

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