Fatimah: No reason not to hire qualified locals


State Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah

KUCHING: Sarawakians should get civil service jobs in their home state as long as they qualify, says a local minister, responding to complaints that too many teachers in Sarawak were from other parts of Malaysia.

Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said she had no qualms about making more requests to the Federal Government to have more locals teach at local schools.

The minister, who keeps a watching brief over education matters for the state government, said she agreed with a PRS Youth statement last weekend, criticising the perceived lack of opportunities for locals.

“We have been saying this for a long time – if our people qualify, let them do the job,” Fatimah told Sarawak Metro yesterday, adding that the sentiment was widespread and not confined to the teaching profession.

“I think, generally, the sentiment is not only (on the issue of) teachers but on other posts as well. We feel that, if we have enough qualified people, why not we be considered? This cuts across all job opportunities. The issue creeps up in the teaching profession because teachers comprise the most number of civil servants.”

In a PRS Youth statement on Saturday, deputy chief Sempurai Petrus Ngelai and information chief Bit Surong said commonly sighted reasons like national integration for the number of non-Sarawakian teachers in the state were not acceptable.

Sempurai said the intention might be good but there were “negative elements” involved, although he did not elaborate.

His information chief said having foreign teachers here meant lost job opportunities for Sarawakians. “We believe we are not lacking in qualified candidates,” Bit said, adding that non-local teachers tended to serve short stints and that was disruptive to students.

Their hard-hitting statement was issued after a press conference last week by Fatimah and state Education Department director Serina Sauni. It was at that event when Fatimah and Serina both spoke about the national integration factor for posting teachers around Malaysia. They had revealed then that about 20% of teachers in Sarawak were not locals.

Yesterday, Fatimah said she was not really defending the Federal Government on the matter, but that she was just offering her views on one of the factors involved. The percentage should decrease, she agreed.

“The Education Minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) had in the past said he agreed with our sentiment too. We have been voicing this matter out for years and we’ll keep voicing it out. Our requests are reasonable,” Fatimah said.

She said the Federal Government should engage more with the Sarawak government on the teacher-recruitment process and criteria for postings, transfers, among other core decision-making processes.

“I don’t think they have ever engaged us. People can apply online (to become teacher trainees) and everything is done centrally. We don’t know how or what is involved.”

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