Despite being ruling power, Sarawak CM says can’t help schools without Education Ministry greenlight

Sulok Tawie
Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg at the town hall session in Betong, December 15, 2019. — Picture courtesy of the Chief Minister’s Office

BETONG, Dec 15 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg claimed today that state ministers and lawmakers cannot help to build hostels, halls or even install electricity in schools without prior permission of the federal Ministry of Education (MoE).

“That is the problem,” he said when replying to a male student of Politeknik Metro Betong during a town hall session here.

“You ask the polytechnic first and if permission is given, we will build the hostel and provide the bus for you,” he told the student.

The student had asked the chief minister for the state government to build a hostel and provide a bus service.

Abang Johari said the higher learning institution is under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government and such a permission is needed before the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) can help to build the hostel and provide the bus.

“We cannot enter the schools now. The YBs from GPS are barred from entering the schools.” he said.

He added that Parents-Teachers Associations in Sarawak had approached the state government for financial aid, but said his administration could not intervene due to a purported declaration from “someone” without disclosing the person’s identity or authority.

“We don’t go to school and help PTAs when there is no invitation. If people don’t invite us, then we don’t come,” he said.

Abang Johari said when he was officiating a function in SK Kabong, Betong, recently he did not touch on politics.

He said he spoke about encouraging children that they must acquire knowledge and education for their future wellbeing.

The chief minister also expressed his disappointment that the state government cannot help much in fixing the dilapidated schools due to the “weird” attitude of the federal government.

“I will not give way to them. I will go all out to struggle for better education for Sarawakians.

“Even though they behave like that, we will definitely help because our future lies with our children.

“If our children are educated, we will have a bright future. If our children are not educated, we will remain poor,” he said.

Sarawak is due for a statewide election by September 2021.

The state ruling leaders who were once part of Barisan Nasional have been talking up their limitations to ramp up support against PH since the four-party coalition took over Putrajaya in last year’s general election.

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