Unethical school heads selling food supplements

By Tony Pua, Nurul Izzah, Ong Kian Ming

The Minister of Education should put an immediate stop to the sale of Dimensi 108 food supplements in national schools by Headmasters / Deputy Headmasters and to suspend the Headmasters / Deputy Headmasters who are involved in selling and marketing this product in schools

We have received reports of two schools in Selangor / Kuala Lumpur where parents have complained that their children have been forced or persuaded to buy Dimensi 108 ‘chewing tablets’ (tablet kunyah) by the principals or vice principals of these schools.

These schools are Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Segar in Cheras and Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Bukit Kemuning 2, Jalan Anggerik Doritis in Kota Kemuning.

A web search also revealed that the ADUN for Dengkil, Shahrum bin Mohd Sharif had supplied all UPSR students in Sekolah Kebangsaan Kota Warisan in Sepang with Dimensi 108 products through the headmaster of the school.

Dimensi 108 is currently being marketed as having the “power to change a student’s behaviour” (kuasa mengubah perangai) and having successfully helped students from Standard 1 to 6, especially UPSR students, to improve their academic performance in as short as 20 days.

We find it totally unacceptable that some Headmasters and Deputy Headmasters of national schools have abused their positions to market these products to students in their schools.

In the case of SK Taman Segar, a parent informed us that according to her daughter, the Headmistress said that it was compulsory to buy the tablets although it was not compulsory to eat it.

In the case of SRK Bukit Kemuning 2, it was the Deputy Headmaster acting in the capacity of Headmaster who was marketing this product to the students, although it was not compulsory for the students to buy the product. Headmasters and Deputy Headmasters are not supposed to sell any products in our schools and we call upon the Minister of Education to suspend these Headmasters and Deputy Headmasters pending further investigation.

We also find it highly troubling that Dimensi 108 is marketed as having the support of the Malaysian Federation of the Council of Headmasters (Gabungan Majlis Guru Besar Malaysia). The two Headmasters / Deputy Headmasters mentioned above used this support as the basis of selling / marketing the product to their students.

According to letters of support issued by the Majlis Guru Besar Daerah Mersing and Kota Tinggi, the improvement in the UPSR scores in both districts could not have been possible without the help of the Dimensi 108 tablets. In the case of SK Teluk Lipat in Endau, Mersing, after receiving the tables in 2011, the % of students passing UPSR increased from 20% in 2010 to 60% in 2011 and to an astounding 98% in 2012!

We call upon the Minister of Education to clarify if the Ministry approved of these tablets being given out on a ‘trial basis’ to the schools in the districts of Mersing and Kota Tinggi in Johor and to respond to the claims that these tablets were instrumental in increasing the UPSR performance of the schools in these districts.

In addition, we also found evidence that one of the shareholders of the authorised agency to distribute Dimensi 108 could be working in the Ministry of Education. Ahmad bin Abdul Rahman is a shareholder of Glomind Enterprises, the authorise agent in question.

The facebook page of Glomind and blog site of Dimensi 108 finds that Ahmad Ab Rahman is a keen promoter of this product. Ahmad Ab Rahman’s own facebook page lists him as working for the Ministry of Education. While we have nothing against entrepreneurs, there is a clear conflict of interest when a civil servant who is also a shareholder in a company, is marketing his company’s products to the Ministry which he is working for, in this case the Ministry of Education.

We call on the Minister of Education to investigate if a conflict of interest and / or a breach against the terms and rules of employment contract of the civil service has taken place in this instance.

In the Dimensi 108 packaging, the logo of the Ministry of Health is also displayed at the bottom. This is misleading as it gives the impression that the product is also endorsed by the Ministry of Health. In an email reply from the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau (NPCB) / Biro Pengawalan Farmaseutikal Kebangsan (BPFK), it was explicitly stated that Dimensi 108 is not allowed to make any health claims (tuntutan kesihatan) for its product.

We call upon the Minister of Health to investigate if any breaches of law have taken place in relation to Dimensi 108’s marketing strategies to the schools and in its packaging.

While we are not against entrepreneurs who want to build a legitimate business in the food industry, we find the manner of marketing through the national schools, using the Headmasters / Deputy Headmasters, the Malaysian Federation of the Council of Headmasters and using the logo of the Minister of Health to be highly unacceptable and unethical and perhaps even illegal.

We ask parents from schools where Dimensi 108 has been marketed / sold to their children to come forward to us and also to lodge complaints with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health.

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