Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Support opposition and lose your job, Malaysian minister warns teachers, officials

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian teachers and officers with the Education Ministry have reportedly been warned by Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid not to support the opposition.

Support opposition and lose your job, Malaysian minister warns teachers, officials

Muslim schoolgirls sit in a circle around their teacher in Putrajaya. Malaysian Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid warns teachers and officers with the Education Ministry not to support the Opposition. Photo: Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian teachers and officers with the Education Ministry have reportedly been warned by Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid not to support the opposition.

According to a report on Friday (Jan 19) by Chinese daily Kwong Wah, the minister said civil servants, education department officers and teachers are also barred from joining any opposition party or criticising the government.

It would be tantamount to sabotaging and tarnishing the government’s image, he said, adding that disciplinary action would be taken against them if they backed opposition parties.

“We won’t allow any of our officers to join any opposition party or hold any party post. But it’s okay if they were to join the government,” he said.

Mr Mahdzir also said those who were against the government should resign before the ministry asked them to do so.

He cited an example of a state education department officer who criticised the government on Facebook and how it went viral on social media before it was picked up by the media.

“We had to take swift action in that case although he was not suspended. His criticism showed the amount of contempt he had for the government,” he said.

“I also found out that one school principal was a PKR (opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat) leader and another officer held a position in (opposition) PAS (Parti Islam Se-Malaysia). This is not allowed.”

The minister said education personnel should focus on reforming the education system and if they had any complaint, should take it to the ministry directly or go through the National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP).

Two opposition politicians from Sarawak have slammed the Minister for his remarks.

“This is against the democratic rights of an individual to support any political party of his or her choice,” said Parti Keadilan Rakyat state chief Baru Bian.

“I may agree to the fact that one may not be allowed to openly criticise the government of the day and that may be governed by some General Orders, but definitely it's unconstitutional for the minister to threaten the teachers not to support the opposition,” said Mr Baru, the Ba Kelalan assemblyman said.

“The minister does not seem to know the difference between a political party and the government of the day," he added. “He is a politically confused minister to say the least.”

 Mr Kelvin Yii, who will be contesting for the Democratic Action Party in Sarawak's Stampin seat in the upcoming election said the education minister's warning was “unconstitutional as it violates the right and freedom of association of every citizen in Malaysia, including teachers and public servants”.

“There is no such thing as blind loyalty in a democratic country and such threats shows the total disregard of the Barisan Nasional government for the fundamental rights of every citizen,” said Mr Yii, who is special advisor to DAP Sarawak chief Chong Chieng Jen. 

An opposition lawyer, Mr Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, said the federal constitution protects the right of every Malaysian citizen who has been registered as a voter to "vote their own choice who gets to be in the government."

"It doesn't matter if the voter is a public servant or not. The only limitation on the public servant is the person cannot bring politics to work. He can be involved in political activities or political parties but it must stay out of his work time. That is all," said the lawyer of Pakatan Harapan chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

"If a person's vote is supposed to be a secret, and the government minister makes this sort of remark, it gives the impression that the government has a way to find out who the voters vote for. Then you can't blame the public if they think the government has access to the voters' list." THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa