Yesterday was a significant day for me. I attended a school function at SMK Taman Tun Dr Ismail in my official capacity as the elected Member of Parliament for Segambut. I sat with the teachers, PIBG members and students. I was invited to give a speech. This entire experience was a first for me.
If Pakatan Harapan had not won the election and formed the Federal Government in Putrajaya, all the above mentioned would not have been possible. In 2008, after I was newly elected as the State Assemblyman for Subang Jaya, I was prohibited from attending school functions in my constituency. I had blogged about setting our schools free. The Education Ministry led by Barisan Nasional had then issued a circular prohibiting Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives from attending school functions and had instead produced a list of allowed politicians into schools made up of mainly branch chairmen of UMNO, MCA, MIC and other BN component parties. The MCA candidates whom I defeated in 2008 and 2013 elections were invited to officiate school events in Subang Jaya the last 10 years. Even Chief Ministers and State Excos from Selangor and Penang were not allowed to officiate or participate in school functions.
Now that we are in Putrajaya, it is imperative for us to fix this wrong practice. Schools must be free from partisan politics and influence of political parties. Schools must not be forced to support any political party. Legitimate elected representatives from both the ruling coalition and opposition (including those from UMNO) should be allowed to enter schools to officiate events or programs organised by the schools in their official capacity as Member of Parliament or State Assemblyman.
I had also blogged about a circular in 2010 prohibiting election of head prefects and school captains. I urge the Education Ministry to revoke any of such unwarranted circulars issued under the previous administration. Efforts must now be made to ensure schools are set free to be everything they are designed to be – a safe learning place where both teachers and students are exposed to the value of a true democracy and democratic practices. Setting our schools free from political influence should be the first transforming act to nurture just the right culture for the next generation of Malaysians.