KOTA KINABALU: Leaders in Sabah have reservations about the decision to allow teachers to get involved in politics.
PBS deputy president Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai feels that while there is nothing wrong about joining politics while being a teacher, or in any civil service including the police force, they must be mindful of their main duties.
“You must stay professional. For example, teachers are not supposed to impose their own political ideologies on students,” he said.
He said this when met at the Sunday Market in Gaya Street during a Chinese New Year walkabout programme, which also saw other leaders from Parti Warisan Sabah and Sabah DAP having similar rounds.
On Saturday (Jan 22), Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said all schoolteachers under the Education Ministry nationwide are allowed to get involved in politics with immediate effect.
He said the permission was also extended to the staff of the Community Development Department (Kemas).
However, Ismail Sabri explained that teachers and Kemas staff are still subject to the rules of their respective departments.
“For example, while dabbling in politics, teachers should not neglect their duties. Otherwise, disciplinary action can be taken and so on. It is up to the department (to make an assessment),” he said.
On the decision, Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said teachers have the right to vote and have their own political thinking like other Malaysians
“But teachers should put their focus on educating children, teaching them knowledge and skills,” he said.
He said teachers were the bridge of education for children and if they were too busy with politics or use the time to influence children with their own ideologies, then it doesn’t seem right.
Shafie felt that too much politicking was not good for the nation because there is much to be done and time spent governing the country well.
Sabah DAP’s Chan Foong Hin said this was an issue worth pondering upon.
He said he has reservations about the decision but at the same time agrees that a person has the right to have their own political thoughts.
“Civil servants are supposed to be politically impartial so I have my reservations,” Chan said, adding the PM should also explain his justifications for the decision.
Asked whether this decision has anything to do with the Undi18 issue, he said teachers do not necessarily play the sole influence on the minds of students because due to the current political and society scenario, anyone can get their information via social media, their peers and parents.