Reports by MARTIN CARVALHO, RAHIMY RAHIM, TARRENCE TAN and FATIMAH ZAINAL
DEPUTY Education Minister Teo Nie Ching traded barbs with several Opposition MPs on the issue of whether politicians were allowed to attend programmes held at schools.
Teo said that the Education Ministry never imposed any policy to stop elected representatives from attending programmes organised by schools.
She said the ministry issued a circular in 2008 as a guideline on inviting VIPs to attend programmes organised at schools and the use of school premises by outsiders.
“The decision only applies when a project or programme is held by the Federal Government.
“So, it’s fair that only a representative from the government should be invited
“If the project is by the Federal Government but we invite those from the Opposition, I do not think that would be right, ” she said in reply to a supplementary question from Mohd Shahar Abdullah (BN-Paya Besar) who asked her to clarify a Cabinet decision to stop leaders from Opposition parties attending programmes organised at schools.
Awang Hashim (PAS-Pendang) interjected, saying that all Federal Government projects are funded by public monies.
“We are all taxpayers, ” he said, and asked why Opposition politicians were not allowed to attend school functions.
Teo replied: “I want to ask, when Barisan Nasional led the Federal Government did they invite (me)?”
Several Opposition MPs stood up and accused Teo of making provocative statements.
“If you want to practice revenge politics, you should not be in the government, ” said Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim (BN-Arau).
Teo also said that her ministry approved 515 requests by Gabungan Parti Sarawak and 16 requests by Opposition party leaders in Terengganu to attend programmes at schools as opposed to only 170 requests by Pakatan Harapan leaders.
“What else do you want me to do here?
“This shows that the Pakatan government is fair, ” she said.
On a memorandum by several university students to oppose the merger of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) and Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA), Teo said the ministry will continue to conduct consultation sessions to get a consensus on the matter.
“The Education Minister also received the blessing of the King to continue with the merger.
“I think it is the responsibility of the ministry to involve as many stakeholders as possible so we can get a consensus.
“I hope Opposition lawmakers can give their support or constructive criticism, ” Teo said.