Teachers’; right to support political party of their choice, say teachers, NGOsTeachers should not be compelled to only support Barisan Nasional as they have the right to support any political party of their choice, educationists said today.Teachers should not be compelled to only support Barisan Nasional as they have the right to support any political party of their choice, educationists said today."Teachers are just like any other citizen in the country. And like other professionals, they have political opinions too," said Hashim Adnan, president of the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), in response to Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor’s call to teachers to return to politics under BN's fold.
"They should be given freedom to exercise their rights," he added.
PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil, meanwhile, described Tengku Adnan's statement as a move to use teachers for narrow political interests and to politicise education.
“Tengku Adnan's statement is nothing more than to make teachers Umno-BN propagandists. This is an unhealthy development for the future of education in the country, and goes against the basic philosophy and raison d'etre of the National Education Blueprint promoted by the Education Ministry,” he said in a statement today.
Echoing him, Suara Guru Masyarakat Malaysia head Mohd Nor Izzat Mohd Johari said restrictions in politics showed that Malaysia's claim of practising democracy was not true.
"We see many forms of restraint when it comes to politics and teachers especially, if one moves even slightly away from BN," he told The Malaysian Insider.
"This has been happening for so long, when a teacher shows interest in politics that is not BN, they immediately get transferred.
Nor Izzat (pic, right), who was once slapped a transfer order for going against Putrajaya's school-based assessment (SBA), said the government was now worried as there was a growing number of teachers supporting the opposition.
"If the government is more open about this, I am certain teachers will come back to support them but with all these restraints, we are just sick of it," said Nor Izzat, who was transferred to a rural school in Pahang about 80km from his previous school in Jerantut, after planning a rally to protest against the implementation of the SBA, last February.
After failing to to reverse the transfer order, Nor Izzat is now teaching at the new school, commuting almost 200km daily from his home.
He criticised the Education Ministry for exercising the same power over a teacher who was ordered to remove her Facebook page after she posted campaign posters of DAP's Teluk Intan by-election candidate, Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud.
"This is the same thing. It is such an unhealthy environment. What they're doing now isn't going to get teachers to support them.
"We, too, as citizens want the freedom to choose which political party to support and we are angry that we are not given this," he added.
High-ranking officials in the Education Ministry had reportedly "advised" a teacher to remove her "anti-government" Facebook postings in support of Dyana Sofya.
The teacher told a news portal that a special officer to the ministry's director-general told her to close down her Facebook page, and that she would be “watched".
Meanwhile, Hashim said while it was good that teachers were allowed to join politics, they should not carry their political views into the classroom.
"It's good if they want to join politics. But they must know how to divide their time and attention. The classroom must be out of bounds.
"They cannot bring politics into the classroom and brainwash students. They must also guarantee that their political ideas are not spread to students which could cause hatred among them," he added. - June 4, 2014. 9:26AM Jun 3, 2014, MSN News, Teachers’; right to support political party of their choice, say teachers, NGOs
Teacher on ministry's radar over Facebook posts
According to the teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, high-ranking officials in the Education Ministry has called her since last week to “advise” her to remove the postings as they are deemed “anti-government”.
She claimed that in the latest in a series of calls and text messages she has received, a special officer to the Education Ministry director-general had told her to close down her Facebook page and that she will be “watched”.
“He said: 'We will monitor from time to time'.
“Can you understand what he is saying? That's okay. I'll just wait and see (what they do). For all I know, I'll get a transfer letter,” she said when contacted.
“It is really silly. There are teachers involved in sex scandals, teachers who don't go to class, schools without facilities and they want to spend time monitoring Facebook.”
The teacher, who has served for 16 years, said that she was told that there had been a complaint made against her.
Her other postings, which were deemed anti-government, include a 1980's news clipping quoting first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman calling for the abolition of Umno.
“There are teachers who are Umno division heads, who attend Umno annual general assembly as delegates, but that is fine?” she further asked.
She added that the ministry officials had also allegedly cautioned her against taking the matter to the media.
When contacted, the special officer confirmed that he had contacted the teacher upon instruction from the director-general Khair Mohamad Yusof (left), but refused to elaborate further.
“I cannot comment as I am a civil servant. You will have to contact the director-general,” he said.
Others who have contacted the teacher regarding her Facebook postings include a ministry counsellor as well as an education department officer from the state where the teacher had once taught.
When contacted, a state education department officer, who also refused to be named, admitted to have called the teacher in question but insisted it was only “to advise as a friend.”
“She is no longer teaching in my state so I have no powers (to instruct her), but we are friends. For me, teachers should concentrate on teaching not on politics,” he said.
Malaysiakini has contacted Khair via telephone and text message and is awaiting his reply. - Malaysiakini, 3/6/2014, Teacher on ministry's radar over Facebook posts