How many ministers’ children are studying abroad?

By Joseph Tawie, FMT

KUCHING: The opposition in Sarawak are backing a call for a referendum to find out how many federal cabinet ministers, their deputies and those involved in education policy-making are sending their children overseas to study where the medium of instruction is in English.

The Sarawak opposition parties have also urged the government “to be practical” about the issue.

According to Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian, many Sarawakian parents along with party members wanted to know where the ministers sent their children to study and how many were sent abroad.

“There is a suggestion by certain quarters that there should be a referendum among the federal ministers where and which schools they are sending their children to.

“I support this suggestion so that we know where they send their children to. Are they sending their children overseas to learn English?

“With this referendum, then we can see whether these ministers are sincere or they just want to make it (using Bahasa Malaysia to teach mathematics and science) just a political issue,” he said.

Bian was responding to Education Minister Muyiddin Yassin’s announcement that starting next year all schools will start using Bahasa Malaysia as a medium of instruction to teach mathematics and science.

De-politicize education

Bian, who is the Ba’Kelalan assemblyman, said that both as a parent and a party member he wants the education policy de-politicised.

“As a father and a PKR leader, we would like to make a stand regarding the change of education policy as announced by the Education Minister that the teaching of Mathematics and Science should be changed back to the use of Bahasa Malaysia.

“An earlier indication from the school was that that they were given option. But now the use of Bahasa Malaysia to teach mathematics and science is absolute and without any option.

“Looking at the history of our Education Ministers, each one of them would come with a different kind of policy when he took over the ministry, resulting in very inconsistent educational policies.

“Our stand is that you should stick to one policy only as changing it mid-term is really making it worse for our people,” said Bian.

He added that the government, it appeared, had not learnt from the past.

As the country is approaching the 13th general election, he said: “It is irresistible conclusion, as a lawyer would say, that the minister is using it as a political issue to gain political mileage.

“As a minister for all races, he should not use it as a political issue. It is not fair to other people,” he said.