JOHOR BARU, Aug 10 — Following backlash over a viral poster of a drawing competition depicting the current Johor administration, the state government has denied that instructions were issued to schools to carry out the drawing competition.
Johor Education, Information and Communication Committee chairman Norliza Noh said the state government was not involved, before stressing that the drawing competition was the initiative of the school involved.
“A poster for a portrait drawing competition titled ‘Negerawan Johor’ (Johor Statesmen), with images of Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi and state executive councillors have been circulating online.
“I would like to stress that the state government has never instructed any groups to carry out this competition.
“Following further checks, we found that the programme is the initiative of the school itself as part of its Merdeka month activities,” said Norliza in a statement posted on her official Facebook today.
Norliza added that while she appreciated the school’s efforts to uplift the Merdeka spirit among students, the use of the term “Negarawan” to describe the depicted state leaders was inappropriate.
“As education is under my portfolio, I appreciate the proactive efforts by the teachers in sparking the Merdeka spirit and celebrating the talents of their visual arts students.
“However, the term ‘Negarawan’ that was used in the viral poster is not suitable in describing the current state government leaders,” she explained.
Norliza, who is also the Johor Lama assemblyman, hopes that the matter will not continue to be an issue or used as political mileage.
She said that she understands that the mistake has given a negative image to the elected state leaders as well as the school and teachers involved.
Earlier, the viral poster titled “Pertandingan Melukis Potret Negarawan Johor (Johor Statesmen Portrait Drawing Competition)”, said to be part of the activities of SMK Tun Fatimah Hashim in Pasir Gudang, made its rounds on social media.
The poster said winners of the competition stood a chance to meet the respective elected state leaders to personally hand over their drawings depicting them.
Earlier, in a Facebook posting, Johor PKR deputy chief Jimmy Puah Wee Tse questioned the use of the word “Negarawan” as well as depicting the elected state leaders as “statesmen”.
In his post, the former state committee chairman urged the Pasir Gudang district education office to investigate the matter and to take the appropriate action.