PUTRAJAYA: Convent Bukit Nanas students, staff and alumni can heave a sigh of relief after the government agreed to extend its land lease for an additional 60 years.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said the permission is specifically given for education purposes only.
“The government has looked into the application by Convent Bukit Nanas’ board to have the lease for the land where the school is located, which will expire on Sept 6, be extended.
“After reviewing the matter and taking into consideration the school’s contribution towards national education since 1899, the government has agreed for the lease to be extended for 60 years, ” the PMO said in a statement yesterday.
The PMO added that the Chief Secretary to the Government, along with the Federal Territories Land and Mines director, had met with Lady Superior of the Society, Sister Theresa Chua Siu Yan, who represented the school board.
“Both parties had agreed with the proposed solution that was discussed. With this decision, it is hoped that Convent Bukit Nanas will thrive and continue to produce high quality human capital, ” it said.
In an immediate response, Chua said in a statement: ”We are grateful and thank the Government of Malaysia for extending the land lease for 60 years.
“We thank God Almighty for giving us the grace and privilege to continue our vocation to educate children in this beautiful country.
“We also thank Malaysians for their love, care and concern towards the wellbeing of Convent Bukit Nanas, which has been educating children for some 122 years, ” she said.
Earlier yesterday, before the PMO statement was issued, the former chairman of CBN’s board of governors, Dr Indrani Manuel, said the educational institution is fully capable of taking care of itself, thanks to its generous alumni.
Indrani, who was CBN’s principal from 1979 to 1993, said the school’s funding comes from its old girls and generous benefactors.
“We have been living off our old girls.
“We can stand on our own two feet; we always have, ” she added.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), in a statement, said as one of the country’s high-achieving schools, CBN should be allowed to continue with its educational work as it has done for more than a century.
“The right to education comes in many forms not only for the students, but also relates to the right to livelihood, as well as method of training for the education providers.
“As long as it is in compliance with educational and other legal requirements, no institution should be dictated on how it may conduct its operations, ” added the commission.
Suhakam urged the authorities, including the National Heritage Department, to preserve CBN and to continue protecting its character and heritage as a historical learning institution that is iconic and has played formative roles in educating Malaysians for 122 years.
On April 7, the corporate entity operating CBN, Lady Superior of the Society of Saint Maur, was granted an application for leave for a judicial review to challenge the government’s decision to not extend the land lease.
The school had written to the Land Office on Oct 4,2017, to seek an extension of the lease. On Dec 18 last year, it received a reply that the lease would not be renewed.
The lease is due to expire on Sept 6 this year.
The all-girls school, started in 1899 by nuns of the Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus, is located along Jalan Bukit Nanas here.