Responding to a report Umno flags were put up around a school’s compound and the students even chanted “Hidup Umno” in an event graced by FT Minister Tengku Adnan, DAP likens it to Putrajaya using schools as “indoctrination camps”.
Students of SK Putrajaya Presint 14 (1) had participated in a class decoration and performance competition themed ‘Umno and independence #Negaraku’. The event was organised by the Federal Territories Ministry, the Putrajaya Education Department and the Putrajaya Umno division education bureau.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor attended the prize-giving ceremony where students were made to sing Umno’s anthem, chant “Hidup Umno” and wave the party’s flag.
Umno flags were evident in the school compound and at one point, a banner with the words ‘Hidup Umno, Hidup Melayu. Dulu, Kini dan Selamanya’ (Long live Umno, long live the Malays. Then, now and forever) was displayed on stage.
Some of the decorations made by the students also included Umno cakes and other Umno-themed memorabilia.
Criticising Tengku Adnan, who is Umno secretary-general, and the Education Ministry for allowing this to happen in a school, DAP secretary-general and Penang chief minister said the incident clearly showed the presence of politics in school and the involvement of young children.
“Singing party songs, slogans…this is akin to brainwashing the innocent minds of young schoolchildren.
“Action should be taken against the school headmaster and the education department should have stopped this,” Lim said in a press conference in Kontar yesterday.
Politics are not officially allowed in local schools and universities, and laws were only recently relaxed to allow tertiary students to take part in political activities.
He added that this kind of indoctrination in schools only happened in totalitarian regimes.
“This only happens in North Korea. Are we going towards North Korea…where schools are used as indoctrination camps?” Lim asked.
Coincidentally, the chief minister was barred from entering a Chinese vernacular school in his state early last month.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir Mohamad likened the incident to what is practised in a country under a dictatorship.
“And now it has spread to Malaysia,” the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman told reporters yesterday evening.
The former prime minister said in his 22 years as Umno president, he had never resorted to such measures in which government facilities such as schools were used to promote a political party.
“This government does not practise the rule of law. They do as they please. But I am certain the people know the government is abusing its powers. And this will help us get more votes,” Mahathir said.
The explicit display of politics at a school event drew sharp criticism from several quarters who accused Tengku Adnan of turning the teachers and students into political tools.
Parent Action Group for Education (Page) chief Noor Azimah Rahim urged the Education Ministry to reprimand the principal for allowing the school to be used for political purposes, FMT reported.
She said the principal was supposed to protect the school against abuse by politicians, but it was obvious the children were turned into political tools.
The school has since defended its actions, with the headmaster Mohd Amin Hamzah denying that it had violated any rules by allowing a political party to be celebrated on its premises.
Amin added that the theme for the competition had been set by the ministry.
The Peninsular Malay Students Federation president Zamri Mohd said that there was nothing wrong with the event, as it served to remind people of Umno’s contributions to the country’s independence.
“The teachers and students were not forced to carry out the programme, they had no problem with it and sang the Umno song with enthusiasm.
“The event was merely to celebrate independence and a historical fact,” Zamri was quoted as saying by FMT.