by Elizabeth Zachariah
The Malaysian Insider
4 June 2014
Teachers should not be compelled to only support Barisan Nasional as they have the right to support any political party of their choice, educationists said today.
“Teachers are just like any other citizen in the country. And like other professionals, they have political opinions too,” said Hashim Adnan, president of the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), in response to Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s call to teachers to return to politics under BN’s fold.
“They should be given freedom to exercise their rights,” he added.
PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil, meanwhile, described Tengku Adnan’s statement as a move to use teachers for narrow political interests and to politicise education.
“Tengku Adnan’s statement is nothing more than to make teachers Umno-BN propagandists. This is an unhealthy development for the future of education in the country, and goes against the basic philosophy and raison d’etre of the National Education Blueprint promoted by the Education Ministry,” he said in a statement today.
Echoing him, Suara Guru Masyarakat Malaysia head Mohd Nor Izzat Mohd Johari said restrictions in politics showed that Malaysia’s claim of practising democracy was not true.
“We see many forms of restraint when it comes to politics and teachers especially, if one moves even slightly away from BN,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
“This has been happening for so long, when a teacher shows interest in politics that is not BN, they immediately get transferred.
Nor Izzat, who was once slapped a transfer order for going against Putrajaya’s school-based assessment (SBA), said the government was now worried as there was a growing number of teachers supporting the opposition.
“If the government is more open about this, I am certain teachers will come back to support them but with all these restraints, we are just sick of it,” said Nor Izzat, who was transferred to a rural school in Pahang about 80km from his previous school in Jerantut, after planning a rally to protest against the implementation of the SBA, last February.
After failing to to reverse the transfer order, Nor Izzat is now teaching at the new school, commuting almost 200km daily from his home.
He criticised the Education Ministry for exercising the same power over a teacher who was ordered to remove her Facebook page after she posted campaign posters of DAP’s Teluk Intan by-election candidate, Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud.
“This is the same thing. It is such an unhealthy environment. What they’re doing now isn’t going to get teachers to support them.
“We, too, as citizens want the freedom to choose which political party to support and we are angry that we are not given this,” he added.
High-ranking officials in the Education Ministry had reportedly “advised” a teacher to remove her “anti-government” Facebook postings in support of Dyana Sofya.
The teacher told a news portal that a special officer to the ministry’s director-general told her to close down her Facebook page, and that she would be “watched”.
Meanwhile, Hashim said while it was good that teachers were allowed to join politics, they should not carry their political views into the classroom.
“It’s good if they want to join politics. But they must know how to divide their time and attention. The classroom must be out of bounds.
“They cannot bring politics into the classroom and brainwash students. They must also guarantee that their political ideas are not spread to students which could cause hatred among them,” he added. – June 4, 2014.