Proposed headmastersí rally in support of Mahathir and Barisan Nasional government most improper,  a gross violation of the non-partisanship of civil servants and should not be held


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): Education Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said yesterday that the Federation of Headmaster Councils plans to hold a rally  involving 4,000 to 5,000 headmasters nationwide to show support for the Barisan Nasional Government and the leadership of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

This is most improper, a gross violation of the non-partisanship of civil servants and should be stopped immediately.

In his two-day pre-election tour of Kedah, Mahathir had picked on teachers as his latest target of attack, warning them not to use school facilities or their working time to instigate students to hate the Government.  Is the Prime Minister prepared to concede that teachers and headmasters should also not use school facilities or their working time to instigate students, directly or indirectly, to hate the Opposition?

Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Tan Sri Mohamad Isa Abdul Samad said teachers should stick to providing knowledge to pupils and not talk about their political beliefs and that whether teachers are pro-opposition or pro-government, they should stop making their opinions known to pupils in schools.

The same rule should apply to headmasters and I call on  Najib to advise the  Federation of Headmaster Councils not to get embroiled in electoral politics with the ever-mounting election fever in the country, sacrificing the educational interests of the next generation of Malaysians.

Or is UMNO so desperate that it must mobilise the Federation of Headmaster Councils to show that although it does not have the massive support of the teachers, it could nonetheless count on the headmasters?

This will unnecessarily introduce a new element of division between teachers and headmasters in schools which cannot be conducive to education.

It is not an offence or a breach of government General Orders for any public officer, whether occupying lowly ranks or the highest public service posts, to have their own political views and sympathies.

It is the constitutional right of the 800,000 members of the civil service to have political views of their own and to exercise the right to vote any political party of their choice, as there is no law to say that one of the conditions of government service in Malaysia is that every government servant must vote the Barisan Nasional in elections.

No one in the government service, therefore  should be penalised or victimised in any manner for having political  sentiments aligned to  the Barisan Alternative, provided such views do not interfere with the responsible and efficient  discharge of their duties as a member of the civil service which should be  neutral and non-partisan in the electoral competition between the Barisan Nasional and Barisan Alternative for the hearts and minds of the voters.

Recently, there has been an unhealthy trend of Barisan Nasional Ministers and Deputy Ministers demanding that the 800,000 civil servants should have absolute loyalty to the  Barisan Nasional government or that they should resign from the government service.

The 800,000 public employees are servants of the Malaysian Government, regardless of which political party forms the government at any time, and Barisan Nasional leaders should be cautioned that they are violating the  fundamental political and voting rights of the 800,000 members of the civil service when they make the unreasonable and improper  demand of  loyalty to the Barisan Nasional.

(23/10/99)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong