BUTTERWORTH, PENANG – The imminent closure of Assumption primary school here and the land deal dispute associated with it has brought about a heated exchange between former premier Najib Razak and DAP assemblyman Satees Muniandy.
Surprisingly, the very person who should step up and set the records straight, if any, has been mum about the issue. Yes, the Education Minister has yet to make any form of statement, giving rise to more speculations.
The former premier had hit out at the DAP state assemblyman on the disputed land deal behind the imminent closure of the school hereafter the latter accused Najib of being ignorant on the matter at the time the latter was education minister.
Najib, in his Facebook post today urged the Education Ministry to respond to the allegations as DAP had made it into a racial/religious issue by insinuating that the school, which is set to be closed on 28 February, is being looked on unfavourably by the government as it was a missionary school.
“If there is no element of religious/racial incitement, why would the DAP state assemblyman and his boss, P. Ramasamy accused that the school is going to be closed because it was running as a missionary school despite the church had disposed of its rights over the school. Whether it was because of the aborted land deal or that the school’s enrolment had fallen, reportedly consisting of only 55 pupils, is something that has to be made clear.
“Personally, I am sad if a school faces closure and I hope the Education Ministry and the government of the day will respond accordingly before it leads into another incitement by the DAP team,” Najib added.
According to Free Malaysia Today, Bagan Ajam assemblyman Satees said it was during Najib’s tenure that SK Assumption was relocated in 1996 after the original building was damaged by a fire.
The owners of the current site, Sri Avenue Sdn Bhd, have said that they built a replacement school in 2008 on the basis that the education ministry would later acquire the land and buildings. Since then, the landowners had sent multiple letters to the ministry inquiring about the acquisition but without success, Satees said.
Education officers have said the school would be closed on Feb 28 because the landowner had asked for the return of the land.
However, in response, Satees said there must have been a reason that the government had refused to acquire the school and its land.
He said the agreement was made when Najib was the education minister. “Why is it that the Barisan Nasional-Najib government that once agreed to take over the land and the building has neglected the acquisition for over 10 years since 2008?
“My guess is that (the closure) is because of the Assumption’s missionary background itself. Let the minister of education deny it. What is the reason for the federal government’s refusal to take over this land as promised?”
SK Assumption was founded in 1933 by the La Salle Brothers, an order of the Catholic church, but the church relinquished all rights when the school was relocated in 2008 and the school has been fully government-run since.
The change of education ministers since 2008 has been like a football match. Interestingly, all the education ministers, including the current one has had some kind of political relationship with DAP. Yet, the person they are blaming now is Najib, of course. As usual, they are trying their best to shoot from the offside.