I DON’T think that the Bagan Dalam assemblyman Satees Muniandy said that the Education Ministry is closing down Sekolah Kebangsaan Assumption in Butterworth because it was a Christian missionary school.
He could have posed a rhetorical question as to whether the school was ignored because it was missionary school.
It was wrong for former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to say that Satees was trying to turn the closure of the school into racial and religious issue.
I agree that once the school land was sold by the Christian missionaries under the management of the La Salle Brothers, the responsibility of the school was passed to the federal Education Ministry.
Before the school was relocated to the present site, the students were placed in a school in Sungei Nyior for nearly ten years.
The school relocated to the present site in 2008 on a land owned by a private company.
located in the present site in 2008, a land owned by a private company that waited 15 years for the land to be acquired by the Education Ministry.
I was informed that the Education Ministry did promise the private company that they would acquire or buy the land.
Despite the exchange of letters between the private company and the ministry, nothing concrete had come out of it.
Even the parent-teacher association of the school wrote to the Education Ministry a few times to acquire the school land from the private company but it was to no avail.
The school was relocated to the present site, but Najib was not the prime minister then.
But it was nonetheless under the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
In other words, the fault was not so much with Najib per se but with the BN government.
Of course, much later, the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government had brought the school to the point of closure.
The BN government and the present PN Government are equally responsible for not taking serious steps to address the land ownership of the school.
It was under the PN government that the actual decision was made to close the school on Feb 28, 2022.
Najib had asked Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin to explain the school closure to the public, but he has not done so.
It was mischievous on the part of Najib to have said that if the explanation was not forthcoming from Radzi, chances are that Pakatan Harapan (PH) politicians might use the school closure for their political ends.
I consider Najib’s statement below-the-belt politics.
I am a bit surprised as to why the Christian missionaries sold the land together with the school to a private developer who in turn built the school at the present site in 2008.
Christian missionaries are very guarded about their schools, but why this happened to SK Assumption seems mind boggling.
Najib, despite all that he is going through, still thinks that what is happening is on the righteous path.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t even explain as to why the education ministry is about to abandon the school.
Things are not as bad as they seem.
The school’s alumni association has already written to the Education Ministry for a grace period to resolve the school’s land matter.
They are in touch with the private owner who is willing to discuss the matter for a final settlement.
The Education Ministry might not have acted in the best in the best interests of the school, parents and students, but it is not too late to save the school from being closed down.
Despite his political manoeuvrings, I am sure Najib wants to save the school. – Jan 12, 2022
Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.