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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pakatan fears teachers who support it might be victimized


Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

The government’s move to allow graduate teachers to engage in politics may be a case of being a little too little and a little too late, according to Pakatan Rakyat leaders.

“This is a rule that should have been uplifted a long time ago. Now that they finally to do it, we want to know why only Grades 41 to 48, why not open to all,” PAS vice president Mahfuz Omar told Malaysia Chronicle.

“Also, those who qualify still need written permission from the secretary-general of the Education Ministry. Will there be discrimination, especially for those who want to be on the opposition side. What are the safeguards for them, to protect them from being victimized?"

Sprucing up

Indeed, amongst the civil service, Malay teachers have probably been one of the most active forces in national politics, particularly in Umno, since independence from British rule in 1957.

But only the higher Support Group officers were eligible to hold political office, with the condition they receive written permission from the director-general of the Public Service Department or the secretary-general of the relevant ministry.

The latest ruling announced on Tuesday now allows education officers, except for principals and officers who hold administrative posts in government agencies, to participate. However, they would still need to get approval from the secretary-general of the Education Ministry.

“It’s time for them to be allowed to be active in politics again,” Bernama reported Chief Secretary Sidek saying in a statement.

Trap

But there are fears that this was probably another pre-election ploy by Umno to spruce up its battered image with the professionals in the country.

Pundits recall how in the past teachers who were known to be aligned to opposition parties especially PAS were often suddenly transferred to remote and thinly-populated areas, where active politics was impractical.

“Our supporters in the teaching profession have suffered much hardship for their beliefs and political convictions. We hope this is not another trap and the persecution will not happen again,” Mahfuz said.

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