DAP leader suspects Umno agenda behind 'teachers in politics' move

·3-min read
DAP leader suspects Umno agenda behind  'teachers in politics' move
DAP leader suspects Umno agenda behind 'teachers in politics' move

The government of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob might not have the right reasons for allowing the political engagement of teachers and community staff, said Penang deputy chief minister P Ramasamy.

He voiced the belief that the latest move might be based on narrow political calculations allowing Umno to tap into the grassroots in advance of the next general election.

"The recent announcement of allowing teachers and community staff to engage in politics is something to be welcomed.

"Since politics affect all citizens in varying ways, there is a need for political participation to bring about favourable outcomes.

"Indeed Umno could not have risen to its present prominence without the pivotal role of school teachers and other grassroots leaders, and it is with its sights on the next general election that it might be looking back on its traditional supporters," he said in a statement today.

"It was the rise of the business and corporate elites that eclipsed the role of teachers and community leaders in parties like Umno.

"The party over the years, given its association with big businesses, might have gone astray in neglecting its once hardcore supporters.

"The announcement of allowing teachers and community leaders to engage in politics might have to do with a need to strengthen Umno at the grassroots levels," claimed Ramasamy who is also the Perai state assemblyperson.

This came after the government announced yesterday that all school teachers under the Education Ministry and staff of the Community Development Department (Kemas) were allowed to get involved in politics.

Ismail Sabri justified the decision by saying it was in line with the democratic rights of the people to be allowed involvement in politics.

Former minister Rafidah Aziz was quick to condemn the new ruling, claiming it will lead to the eventual erosion of the education system.

The veteran politician questioned if such a move would result in teachers spreading propaganda.

Campaigning tool

Ramasamy concurred that teachers could be used as a campaigning 'tool' for the upcoming general elections.

"Perhaps having lost the 2018 general elections to Pakatan Harapan, there is a felt need to strengthen Umno and by definition BN.

"What better way than focussing on the segment that has been neglected for some time.

"Teachers and community staff constitute a big segment of the population and they have direct links with the grassroots at the local levels unlike the corporate elite," he said.

He repeated that allowing people to participate in the political process is not necessarily a bad thing, but asked for more details.

Party membership

"Can teachers and community staff enrol as members of political parties, if they are not members already?

"Can they take part in party elections and hold positions? What about their participation in the national and state elections?

"If teachers and community staff hold positions, either at the party level or government level, will these contradict with their traditional roles?" he asked.

Ramasamy claimed the government seemed to have made the announcement without the necessary planning in mind.

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