KUCHING: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) National vice-chairwomen Voon Shiak Ni yesterday lambasted Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid for telling teachers not to vote for the opposition if they want to keep their jobs.
“Delivering an intimidating statement to teachers is unacceptable and an insult to the noble profession and intelligence of teachers,” she said in a statement.
“Voting for the opposition is not voting against the government, but deciding the next government,” she pointed out.
Voon thus demanded that Mahdzir apologise to all teachers.
“His warning to teachers not to support the opposition is against the democratic rights of teachers as citizens of this country, stripping them of their right to express themselves freely through the ballot boxes,” she pointed out.
“I had been a teacher before and I take offence for this statement which is demeaning the 400,000 educators of this country. Malaysia is not North Korea.”
Voon reminded that Malaysia is a democratic country built on principles of democracy in which everyone has the right to vote for the political party of his/her choice.
“All votes are meant to be confidential, and it’s a serious offence for anyone to breach confidentiality of vote cast by any voter,” she pointed out.
Voon said PKR viewed the minister‘s threat as a sign of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) desperation to hold on to power as the coming 14th General Election (GE14) posed a threat to it.
“The present government may not be the next government after GE14. We want to assure the people that the goverment of Malaysia will not be destroyed or ‘hancur’ if Pakatan Harapan (PH) comes into power,” she said.
“Selangor and Penang, the Pakatan-led states, are doing fine, notably Selangor state civil servants who have been given three months’ bonus this year,” she added.
Kwong Wah newspaper reported on Jan 19 that Mahdzir had warned teachers and officers that disciplinary action would be taken against them if they choose to back the opposition.
Mahdzir said civil servants, education department officers and teachers are barred from joining any opposition party or criticising the government as it was tantamount to sabotaging and tarnishing the government’s image.
He even suggested that those against the government should resign before the ministry asks them to do so.
Mahdzir refuted the news report two days ago, saying it was illogical and had probably been misinterpreted by the reporter.
He clarified that he had told a gathering of teachers at Putrajaya last week that civil servants, especially headmasters, should be mindful of their positions and must ‘fine-tune’ and put a ‘buffer zone’ between their career and political ideology.