(Penang, Wednesday): The MCA Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Hon Choon Kim should explain why the MCA is using the Education Ministry to victimise and persecute University of Malaya lecturer Chia Oai Peng for speaking the truth about the "hijacking" episode in the the Damansara school controversy.
Malaysiakini on Monday and the Sun today reported that Chia has been asked to show cause by the university administration for her Internet postings in support of the controversial SJK (C) Damansara in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Associate professor Chia Oai Peng of the Literature and Social Science Faculty received a show-cause letter from the university's vice-chancellor Prof Dr Anuar Zaini Md Zain, asking her to explain her e-mail postings on the Damansara Chinese school issue in a discussion group last month.
In the letter dated Feb 6, Anuar said that he was informed by the education minister's special officer that Chia had sent a number of Internet postings in support of retaining the 70-year-old Chinese school and thus violated the university's rules.
He added that Chia has used her university's e-mail account to send the messages, which are based on the inaccurate facts and allegations.
Anuar is asking Chia to explain the Internet postings before the university takes further action on the matter.
He told Chia that according to the Statutory Bodies Act 2000 (Disciplinary and Surcharge) (Akta Badan-badan Berkanun 2000, Tatatertib dan Surcaj), Regulation 18 (1), a university officer cannot make public statements, whether oral or written, that criticise government policies without written approval from the education minister.
In addition, an officer cannot make any public statements that can bring embarrassment to the government.
According to Anuar, Chia's statements have touched on government policies, hence they can be regarded to have violated the regulation mentioned.
Chia told the Sun that she did not do anything wrong as it was her duty as former Parent-Teacher Association of the Damansara school and a member of the school's board of governors to forward the truth to the parents.
She said parents wrote to her via her email address and she merely responded to their queries.
In her email clarification which has become the basis of the university's show-cause demand, Chia related the "hijacking" of the new school site originally earmarked for the Damansara school. She said the Damansara school was initially slated to move to Bandar Utama, which is closer to the old site. However, that plan was 'hijacked' by a number of influential individuals, who turned the allocated Bandar Utama school to Puay Chai (II).
"SJK (C) Damansara was approved for relocation to BU3 (Bandar Utama) school, which sits on a six-acre land and is a completely-built school. Refer to YB Lum's (Gerakan state assemblyman for Bukit Lanjan, Lum Weng Keong) Jan 2001The MCA has already achieved result in the victimisation and persecution of Chia through the Education Ministry in the issue of the university show-cause letter, for this has forced her to withdraw from various public engagements - and the reason why she has to cancel her appearance at the DAP ceramah on New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan at the Penang Chinese Town Hall tomorrow night.
press release and the letter from the Education Ministry to SJK (C) Damansara dated April 3, 2000," wrote Chia in the e-mail posting.
"Unfortunately, Puay Chai (II) has hijacked the BU3 school from SJK (C) Damansara and the latter is later forced to share (tumpang) with Puay Chai (II).
"Those involved in the hijacking include a Chinese education 'philanthropist', minister, and government officers who are all Chinese, and a member of the board of governors from Puay Chai who had volunteered to sit on the SJK(C) Damansara board of governors and the committee for relocation."
If what Chia had said about the "hijacking" of Damansara school site at Bandar Utama is untrue and baseless, then let Hon and the MCA leaders counter with the truth and the facts, but they should not abuse their powers in the government by influencing the Education Ministry to victimise and harass Chia for speaking the truth.
Is there a new university rule that lecturers are banned from telling the truth if it could embarrass the government?
Has speaking the truth become an offence or even "crime" in Malaysia justifying disciplinary action by the local universities against university lecturers? Is there a new university rule that lecturers are banned from telling the truth if it could embarrass the government?
Is the new Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad, who was formerly Vice Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia, instituting a new educational philosophy and morality for university lecturers that they should not speak the truth if it could bring embarrassment to the government?
Hon Choon Kim should take immediate action to stop the victimisation and harassment of Chia Oi Peng by getting the University of Malaya to withdraw the show-cause letter or the MCA Cabinet members will bring international shame to the country's universities as Malaysia will gain notoriety in the world academic scene as a country where university lecturers cannot tell the truth to avoid embarassing the government.
Alternatively, if Hon maintains that the university's disciplinary action against Chia is right, he is invited to the DAP ceramah in Penang tomorrow to explain why MCA is using Education Ministry to victimise and persecute University of Malaya lecturer Chia Oai Peng for speaking the truth about the "hijacking" episode in the Damansara school controversy.