GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has expressed disappointment that he has been barred from visiting a Chinese primary school in Bukit Mertajam.
He said he wanted to visit SJK (C) Kampung Sungai Lembu there after a visit to Kampung Sungai Lembu on August 26 together with PKR President Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail who is also Permatang Pauh member of parliament where the school is located in.
He claimed that on that day, arrangements were made for him to visit the school but was later told he could not enter without written permission from the state education department.
“So I did as told and wrote a letter dated September 5th but received a reply the following day saying that I should write to the Education Minister first to ask for permission.
“The letter also stated that it is normal practice for all the Menteri Besar and Chief Ministers to get a written permission from the education department before visiting any school.
“This is something absurd and this is the first time something like this has happened to me as I’ve visited other schools with no such issue,” he said.
Lim also showed the letter he had written seeking for permission from the state education department and the reply dated Sept 6, to members of the press.
Asked if it could have been the area (Kampung Sungai Lembu) that caused his entry to be denied, Lim retorted that there was no relation between the area and the school he had wanted to visit.
Kampung Sungai Lembu is the area where the controversial illegal factory is located.
Lim claimed the purpose of his visit was to hand over monetary allocation to the school and was merely carrying out his duty as elected Chief Minister to do his part in checking up on schools in the state and their condition and see what needed to be done.
“The state government’s initiative is something that should be welcomed but instead we were given such a hard time just to carry out our responsibility?
“The federal government should be more open and respect people’s decision and not victimise or bully the state government which is just trying to hand over a contribution.
“If not, just make sure they (Chinese schools) get enough money,” he told a press conference at his office in Komtar here today.
Without mentioning names, Lim questioned why he was denied entry into a school there despite his position as Chief Minister while an Umno leader was able to enter a school in the same area.
He also questioned the logic of having the Education Minister oversee applications to visit schools. According to Lim, Chief Ministers have the right to visit schools to ensure all needs are met.
“If the federal government can give enough allocation to schools especially vernacular schools, then there’s no need for us to go.
“It is the responsibility of the Chief Minister to look into the needs of schools in his administrative state,” he added.
He also called for the same to be done by other ministers with regards to school visits.
Lim then went on to challenge the Education Ministry to fulfill all educational requirements as he claimed it was making the task hard for the Penang state government.
State Education Director Shaari Osman is not available for comment. – MO