NEWS Lecturer asked to show cause for Internet postings
Ng Boon Hooi
A Universiti Malaya lecturer was asked by the university administration to explain her Internet postings in support of the controversial SJK (C) Damansara in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Associate professor Chia Oai Peng of the Literature and Social Science Faculty received a show-cause letter from the university’s vice-chancellor Prof Dr Anuar Zaini Md Zain, asking her to explain her e-mail postings on the Damansara Chinese school issue in a discussion group last month.
In the letter dated Feb 6, Anuar said that he was informed by the education minister’s special officer that Chia had send a number of Internet postings in support of retaining the 70-year-old Chinese school, and thus violated the university’s rules.
He added that Chia has used her university’s e-mail account to send the messages, which are based on the inaccurate facts and allegations.
Anuar is asking Chia to explain the Internet postings before the university takes further action on the matter. He told Chia that according to the Statutory Bodies Act 2000 (Disciplinary and Surcharge) (Akta Badan-badan Berkanun 2000, Tatatertib dan Surcaj), Regulation 18 (1), a university officer cannot make public statements, whether oral or written, that criticise government policies without written approval from the education minister.
In addition, an officer cannot make any public statements that can bring embarrassment to the government.
According to Anuar, Chia’s statements have touched on government policies, hence they can be regarded to have violated the regulation mentioned. New school ‘hijacked’ In January, students at SJK (C) Damansara were directed by the Education Ministry to temporarily transfer to SJK (C) Puay Chai (II) - a few kilometres away - while awaiting the completion of the new building in Tropicana.
The authorities have been unable to provide a clear explanation as to what would happen to the 70-year-old school and its abandoned site. The majority of the students have moved to Puay Chai (II) but 74 have stayed put and are continuing their classes at a neighbourhood temple.
Chia, who is a former member of the Parent-Teacher Association of the school, told malaysiakini that the postings referred to in the show-cause letter were believed to be on SJK (C) Damansara egroups.
She said that she posted her messages to correct some erroneous information on the issue. According to Chia, the Damansara school was initially slated to move to Bandar Utama, which is closer to the old site.
However, that plan was ‘hijacked’ by a number of influential individuals, who turned the allocated Bandar Utama school to Puay Chai (II). “SJK (C) Damansara was approved for relocation to BU3 (Bandar Utama) school, which sits on a six-acre land and is a completely-built school.
Refer to YB Lum’s (Gerakan state assemblyman for Bukit Lanjan, Lum Weng Keong) Jan 2001 press release and the letter from the Education Ministry to SJK (C) Damansara dated April 3, 2000,” wrote Chia in the e-mail posting.
“Unfortunately, Puay Chai (II) has hijacked the BU3 school from SJK (C) Damansara and the latter is later forced to share (tumpang) with Puay Chai (II). “Those involved in the hijacking include a Chinese education ‘philanthropist’, minister, and government officers who are all Chinese, and a member of the board of governors from Puay Chai who had volunteered to sit on the SJK(C) Damansara board of governors and the committee for relocation.
“If you read the Chinese dailies, you would have read their press statements after the hijacking is disclosed to the public. The press statements denied (the) hijacking, but explained how it was done.” Chai added that to solve the Damansara school issue, the Education Ministry should allow the old school to continue operating.
“Such (a) decision should not jeopardise the construction of the (new) SJK (C) Damansara school in Tropicana,” she added. Education Ministry to blame Chia, however, believed that the main reason for the university action against her was because of an open letter she wrote to major Chinese dailies on Jan 15.
Her article entitled ‘Abel and Cain’, published in Sin Chew Jit Poh, explained that in early April last year, the Education Ministry has approved the allocation of one of the six newly-built national primary schools to SJK (C) Damansara.
“But a week later, Deputy Education Minister Hon Choon Kim announced to the press that the new school is given to Puay Chai,” she wrote.
She said that the news came as a surprise to the authorities of the Damansara school and they sought a meeting with the deputy minister.
But the deputy minister and state assembly representatives refused to see them. In the article, Chia argued that Puay Chai (II) should hand over its building to SJK (C) Damansara and move to the new building being built in Tropicana instead of the latter.
After the publication of the article, supporters of the old school have shifted the blame from the school’s board of governors to the Education Ministry for robbing SJK (C) Damansara of the Puay Chai (II) site.