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Tuesday December 4, 2012

No progress in school’s rebuilding project

KUCHING: It is likely to be a long time before students of SK St Martin Merdang here can have a school which they can call their own.

Going by State Education director Abdillah Adam’s comment yesterday, the school’s rebuilding project is still at the land acquisition phase.

Abdillah said nothing had been confirmed although the State Education Department had identified a suitable plot not far from the school’s previous location.

“I’m not sure of the exact site because I’ve not been there and we have not confirmed it yet. If the land is free (from any disputes), then the process of acquisition will be quick. As such we can’t say for certain for now,” he told reporters when asked for an update of the school’s development.

Besides, Abdillah said, the department would need to secure the fund to rebuild the school.

“We don’t want any students to be deprived of a good education but development will take some time,” he added.

More than 650 students and over 30 teachers of SK St Martin Merdang have been squatting at SK Jalan Muara Tuang for five years already.

SK St Martin Merdang, one of the few remaining mission schools in Sarawak, has been in this situation ever since it was evicted from its original location due to a land dispute in late November, 2007.

It was reported that the parcel of land on which the school was established was a Native Customary Rights land.

The school stood on a 5-ha site of a 12ha piece of land and the landowner had demanded RM700,000 in compensation.

It is learnt that the previous owner, the father of the current landowner, had actually alienated the 5-ha plot to the Anglican mission to build the school there out of good faith.

There was even an agreement drawn up that the land would be free of charge and the owner’s heir or heirs would not develop that portion of the land.

However, the agreement was not legalised and the school had to close down to avoid further legal complications.

Following this, SK St Martin Merdang has since been conducting classes in the afternoon at SK Jalan Muara Tuang, which holds classes in the morning.

The situation has left many parents unhappy and frustrated.

They said their children should not be subjected to this kind of treatment.

The teachers also have to share tables with teachers of SK Jalan Muara Tuang, resulting in a cramped staff room.

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