(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The Education Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak should make a Ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday on the most unprecedented, unhealthy and undesirable decision to replace Datuk Matnor Daim as Education Director-General on April 29 - six months before his retirement was due.
The statement by the Education Minister yesterday that the government does not have to explain the reason for replacing Matnor with his deputy Datuk Dr. Shukor Abdullah is completely unacceptable for a government which upholds the principles of accountability and transparency.
Najib had said that the decision was based on an earlier arrangement last year and Matnor had agreed his tenure would only be for a year.
It has been reported that Matnor was not aware of the matter and in any event, was Matnor in a position to agree or disagree if the government has taken the unprecedented decision to violate all procedures for promotion in the civil service with regard to the premature removal of Matnor as Education Director-General six months before his retirement in October.
All that Matnor would say for the record was that he was a civil servant who would abide by the Governmentís decision. He said: "This is all I would want to say".
In the final analysis, it is not a question of whether Matnor agreed or disagreed to his premature removal as Education Director-General six months before his retirement was due, but whether this was just and proper.
It is the Education Minister who must explain why previous Education Director-Generals have their appointments extended after their retirement whereas Matnor should have his appointment removed six months before retirement? This is clearly a stain on the Matnorís public service record for which a full and satisfactory explanation must be given in Parliament.
Sarawakians rightly felt proud when Matnor was appointed to the high Federal post of Education Director-General last year, and it is understandable for Sarawakians to feel outraged at such a preposterous treatment of Matnor. But it is not only Sarawakians who should feel outraged, all right-thinking and fair-minded Malaysians should feel outraged at Matnor being given such an unprecedented raw deal.
Najib had added salt to the wound when he said on Wednesday that the decision to replace Matnor was "for the benefit of the civil service" - implying that to allow Matnor to continue as Education Director-General for the remaining six months of his public service until October would not be "for the benefit of the civil service".
The unhealthy, undesirable and unprecedented premature removal of Matnor as Education Director-General would have a most demoralising effect in the civil service as there had never been a single instance in the education or civil service where someone holding such a high post was asked to prematurely vacate his position in such a manner.
It is also a setback for national integration particularly in making Sarawakians and Sabahans feel that they are fully Malaysians and would send out a wrong message about the governmentís commitment to the Vision 2020 goal of a Bangsa Malaysia.
The Education Minister should not allow the larger national interests to be compromised by such an unhealthy, undesirable and unprecedented action and if he is unable to reverse the government decision to ensure that Matnor completes his public service as Education Director-General until his retirement in October, the Cabinet should intervene to set aside the decision.
It is no adverse reflection on Datuk Dr. Shukor Abdullah, the Deputy Director-General who is to take over Matnorís post, in demanding that Matnor should be allowed to hold the position till he retires, as the government can extend Shukorís term as had happened with previous Director-Generals Datuk Asiah Abu Samah and Tan Sri Dr. Wan Zahid Mohd. Noordin.