KOTA KINABALU: Schools in Sabah are not obliged and have the discretion whether to hold the "Palestine Solidarity Week", as mentioned in a recent circular by the Education Ministry.
Sabah Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship Minister, Datuk Phoong Jin Zhe (pic), said he got this confirmation from Education Deputy Minister Lim Hui Ying on Thursday (Oct 26).
He said he asked Lim about this matter, and the latter had, in a text message, said that schools in Sabah and Sarawak could choose whether to hold the "Palestine Solidarity Week" or not.
Phoong said that while he acknowledged the Federal government's stance in supporting Palestine on a humanitarian basis, he felt that school children should be excluded from any involvement.
"The Ministry of Education and the government should keep all schools and educational institutions in Malaysia away from international political conflicts, religious disputes, and wars.
"Students should attend school to acquire knowledge rather than being involved in adult protests worldwide. Young students should not be dragged into the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict," he said in a statement Friday (Oct 27).
Phoong believes that the "Palestine Solidarity Week" should be discouraged in Sabah and throughout Malaysia.
He said the Education Ministry should encourage schools to teach the importance of peace instead of involving children, who lack the capacity for judgement, in complex political manoeuvres.
"Based on humanitarian support, I acknowledge the Federal government's stance in supporting Palestine," said the Luyang assemblyman.
Phoong, however, emphasised that underage students should not participate in any form of political activities, especially those involving conflicts abroad, as it would affect their physical, mental, and spiritual development.
"I strongly oppose acts of war and violence and pray for an early resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, allowing local residents to return to peaceful days," he said.