It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white…

Do you know if your school teacher supports the opposition? The Tawau District Education Office (PPD) does, if an anti-UMNO blog is to be believed. Photos surfaced today on Facebook taken from the blog Ameno World ( showing a letter purportedly written by a District Education Officer in PPD Tawau.

The letter dated 1st March by Darman Shah bin Haji Asakil instructed headmasters in Tawau to conduct a survey of teachers according to their political affiliation. The teachers would be ‘graded’ according to three categories, translated and reproduced below:

White – avid government supporter, critical towards government policies in a positive way, and is thankful about the advantages bestowed upon government servants.

Grey – has started to openly give negative criticisms toward government policies and started to warm up to (“sudah mula berjinak-jinak dengan”) the opposition.

Black – a member and office bearer of an opposition party, actively involved in campaigning against the government and has made attempts to influence their co-workers to take part in activities aimed at inducing hatred towards the government.

It is not known whether Darman issued the letter in his official capacity or simple “went rogue” in a case of overzealousness. The Tawau PPD has yet to make any official clarification. Meanwhile, web portal Free Malaysia Today reported that Darman retracted the letter effective today and apologized for his “mistake”.

Official orders issued via written memo may seem old school in the digital age, but perhaps the idea was to remain untraceable. If for instance, only one letter was sent out and was later destroyed, then it would be quite hard to trace who gave the order.

Darman’s instructions that the letter be kept secret according to the Official Secrets Act went unheeded as netizens shared the photo virally today on Facebook.

Immediate reactions from the public ranged from disbelief, shock (“OMG”) to outright rage.

Facebook user Jamlus Kassim called the letter “an abuse of power by a civil servant” and called on appropriate action to be taken against the officer.

Facebook user Jasbeer Singh expressed disgust at BN for “playing the colour card” and called on netizens to “show them the red card” in the next General Election.

This comes days after a Facebook photo outed a letter by Sarawak Assistant Minister Mong Dagang to two government departments to cut off financial aid to a disabled farmer who supported the opposition during the 2011 Sarawak State Election.

Darman’s letter brings to light questions of whether civil servants have a right to their own political views in a democratic country. If a man’s vote is secret, why should the PPD want to map teachers’ political stand?

The bigger question is, what does the Education Ministry intend to do with this information? One wonders if the teachers in the grey and black category will be threatened, ‘advised’ or transferred? –The Rocket

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