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Why we need ‘Ubah’

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Putrajaya thinks nothing of splurging RM55m for a Youth Day celebration even as a village school has to wait eight years for a new school block, observes Steven Sim.


I was just being interviewed by a radio station on my thoughts on ‘Ubah’ mascot.

I said that Ubah’s cuteness brought real laughter to the people of Malaysia, against the cynical laughter of stale politics. Someone said, how dare I treat Ubah like a joke.

I think the bigger joke is the one that we are living in: When there is a theft, the first thing we ask is, “Is the thief a Malay?”; or in a gang fight, we immediately think, “must be Indians”. Or the best students never get the best universities and the best contractors never get government contracts.

The joke is, we can afford RM55m to organise a Youth Day celebration in Putrajaya, but we cannot afford to spend less than 10 per cent of that amount to build a school block for our children’s education.

This is a real incident (see statement below). A village school in my constituency, SRJKC Permatang Tinggi has been waiting for eight years for a new school block. Students are now studying in termite-infested wooden classrooms built in 55 years ago!

Teachers have to squeeze into a cramped staff room and some overflowed to sit in a makeshift office along building corridors. The school applied for a new block in 2004, and the government promised to build it in 2005. RM55m for Youth Day celebration, zero for a village school. Apparently contractors’ profit prevails over our children’s education.

That is why we need Ubah.

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Steven Sim is the Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam.

Minister commits to build new school block in 2014

According to the answer given to my question in Parliament on 16 July 2013, the Minister of Education will propose to the government to build a new school block consisting of 18 classrooms and other facilities for SRJK (C) Permatang Tinggi in the 4th Rolling Plan of the 10th Malaysia Plan (RMK10).

Although we are disappointed that this urgently needed school block has been delayed for many years, we nonetheless welcome the Minister’s reply that something finally will be done. We are cautious to note that the Ministry is only APPLYING for the said project to be done in the 4th Rolling Plan of RMK10 (2014-2015) and thus, no final confirmation was given to my answer in Parliament. However, we take this as the Minister’s commitment to have the building built beginning 2014, since (1) education is an important area of concern and (2) the Minister of Education is not just any minister but he is also the Deputy Prime Minister as well.

On behalf of the school, I appeal to the federal government to approve this long pending project to be built by 2014 as planned by the Education Ministry. We also ask for a road map and deadline of this project to be given so that we may monitor the progress of this project.

If the government can spend up to RM55m just to organise one Youth Day celebration in Putrajaya last year, they should definitely spend the money for the education of our children.

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Finally, I call upon Barisan Nasional to fulfill their GE13 election promise to provide annual allocation to all vernacular schools. When Deputy Prime Minister cum Education Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin was in Kuching last April just a week before Nomination Day, he said that school boards will not have to appeal for special allocations anymore as there will be fair annual allocations to all Chinese and Tamil schools.

We are still waiting for this to be done. I want to urge the government especially the Minister of Education not to politicise education, but instead deliver its responsibility as a government for all Malaysians.

Steven Sim Chee Keong

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