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Hishammuddin should ask for at least another RM1.5 billion to be allocated as development fund for SJK(C)s and SJK(T)s for the next 5 years and Petronas can do their part to improve the schooling condition of our children.

Media Statement
by Lau Weng San

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Minister of Education Datuk Hishammudin Hussein had issued a warning that all parties should refrain from politicizing the accident which took place in SJK(C) Keat Hwa where a teacher Chan Boon Heng fell to his death when a decayed plywood floor gave way on Sunday (as reported in Utusan Malaysia September 14, 2005, page 5).

In another report in Nanyang Siang Pao, page A11, he commented that his ministry should not bear full responsibility for the accident as the headmaster and the administration of the half-subsidized SJKs should also bear the responsibility.

Hishammuddin’s comments are most inappropriate and unacceptable as he failed to understand that the root cause of the accident is the lack of development fund for SJKs in Malaysia.

According to statistics revealed by him to Parliament, from 2001 to 2005, 5,755 national schools received a total of RM4.9 billion in development funds, which is equivalent to an average of RM170,000 per school annually. As for SJK(C)s and SJK(T)s, the average amount received was only RM20,761 and RM22,000 per school annually respectively.

This means that each SJK requires some RM150,000 per school annually to match the average allocation for each national school. In view of this disparity in funding, another RM1.5 billion (RM 300 million each year for five years) should be allocated as development funds for SJKs.

As Minister of Education, Hishammuddin should transform our education system into a towering education system to ensure that parents are not worried nor their children threatened by school bullies or accidents caused by dangerous old school buildings. Without a towering education system accompanied by quality education and infrastructure, our nation building agenda will not be realized as we depend on quality human capital as a catalyst for nation building.

Hishammuddin should therefore be bold enough to at least apply for another RM1.5 million of allocation as development funds for SJKs for the next five years and if possible commit the government to making such allocation in the 2006 Budget. The first step to realize this is to bring it up for discussion at the Cabinet meeting. If the government has limited funds, then I would like to suggest that he consider asking Petronas to donate the amount from the massive RM35.5 billion profit which it recorded in the last financial year.

After all, being a state-owned oil and gas company, and unlike other similar companies, Petronas has an obligation towards nation building. The profit that Petronas made is not its private property but belongs to all Malaysians. If Petronas refuse to contribute part of its profit towards reducing the increasing burden of the rakyat, then at least Petronas should show some sympathy to the numerous school children that are still lacking in basic schooling facilities throughout the country.


* Lau Weng San, DAP Selangor State Organizing Secretary

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