BN won Pengkalan Kubor, but ditched national education issues

By Lim Kit Siang, MP for Gelang Patah

200px-Muhyiddin_YassinDeputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has reasons to feel very proud as he can claim chief credit for the Umno/BN victory in the Pengkalan Kubor by-election in Kelantan, winning with an even bigger majority than during the 13th general elections last May.

I don’t think there is another Cabinet Minister from outside Kelantan who had spent so many days and visited Tumpat so many times as Muhyiddin during the 13-day by-election campaign period.

But this by-election victory for BN/UMNO has come at a heavy price – Muhyiddin’s abdication of his responsibilities as Education Minister and in particular his duties and responsibilities to the future generation of Malaysians as since his return from the ASEAN Education Ministers’ Meeting in Vientianne, he headed immediately for Tumpat and his sole pre-occupation since then was to win a bigger victory for Umno/BN in Pengkalan Kubor by-election instead of personally dealing with the outrageous educational scandal in the leak of UPSR examination papers.

During this period, Muhyiddin had only time for one meeting in the Education Ministry on the leak of UPSR Science and English papers – on Sept. 15 when he chaired the special meeting to scrutinize the Standards Operating Procedures (SOPs) used for preparing the UPSR examination papers.

This special UPSR SOP meeting has become a great farce, as Muhyiddin did not appear to know at the meeting that there had been leaks of more UPSR papers including Maths and Tamil, and the UPSR pupils, their parents and the Malaysian public were not informed until Monday on Sept. 22 that the UPSR Maths and Tamil papers had leaked and UPSR pupils are required to resit for these two papers on Oct. 9.

Did the UPSR SOP meeting on Sept. 15 chaired by Muhyiddin discuss the leak of the UPSR Maths and Tamil papers, and can Muhyiddin explain why the Education Ministry and the Examinations Syndicate had been so grossly incompetent as to take 13 days to announce the leak in these two papers?

Or was Muhyiddin just too busy spearheading the UMNO/BN by-election campaign in Kelantan and just let things drift at the expense of the interests of the 500,000 Std. 6 pupils?

There should be a full investigation and public accountability by Muhyiddin for this serious lapse of responsibilility.

Yesterday, I called for the scrapping of the re-sitting of the UPSR English Paper on Sept. 30 and the resitting of the UPSR Tamil and Maths papers on Oct. 9, as the 500,000 Std. 6 primary school pupils should not be made to suffer further trauma and enormous emotional stress and strain because of the shocking incompetence and lack of professionalism of the Education Minister, the Education Ministry and the Examinations Syndicate.

In fact, I will even call for the scrapping of the re-sitting of the UPSR Science paper on Sept. 30.

Muhyiddin, the Education Ministry and the Examinations Syndicate have created enough trauma and emotional stress on the 500,000 UPSR pupils this year.

As the UPSR examination does not affect school promotions, Muhyiddin should convene an emergency meeting of his Education Ministry and Examinations Syndicate officials to consider the scrapping of the UPSR Science Exam and resit of the English paper on Sept. 30 and Maths and Tamil papers on Oct. 9 and to allow the schools to rely on the school trial examination results for this year.

Up to now, Muhyiddin studiously avoided mention of what has happened to the special task force set up last November to conduct “immediate investigations” into the leak of Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and UPSR examination papers.

Is this because Muhyiddin was too busy with the Pengkalan Kubor by-election to have time to find out what has happened to the investigations into the leaks of SPM and SPRM last year.

This is why Muhyiddin has little credibility as a competent, diligent and professional Education Minister when he seemed to be quite blur on so many important educational issues – which reinforces the case that he should relinquish his portfolio as Education Minister to another Minister who is prepared to put his heart and soul into the education portfolio and not to take charge of it as a part-timer.

The time has also come for a full-scale investigation into the frequent occurrence of leaks of STPM, SPM and UPSR examination papers, which undermine public confidence in the integrity of the examination and education system – as these are signs of a system of corrupt governance which is getting from bad to worse.

Is Muhyiddin prepared to give serious consideration to the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry reviewing leaks of public examination papers in the past two decades at various levels of education?

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