PENANG: May 5, 208 By PRISCILLA DIELENBERG
There is no political agenda behind the state government’s programme to give 223 Tamil school pupils free spectacles worth RM9,000, as this was approved during the previous administration.
Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy, who heads the education portfolio, told a press conference Monday that the programme was initiated when Gerakan’s former state executive councillor Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon was in charge of education.
“This is a social activity for poor pupils, and we feel that such good programmes should continue,” said Dr Ramasamy.
He was responding to Deputy Education Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong’s comment on Saturday that schools should not be turned into a political platform.
Dr Wee had said that Dr Ramasamy’s application to give spectacles to the pupils was rejected because the state Education Department did not want them to be disturbed during school hours.
Dr Ramasamy said that the progamme involving 11 Tamil primary schools in South Seberang Prai was scheduled to be held at the SJK (T) Ladang Jawi from 8.30am to 10.30am next Monday.
His office wrote to the State Education Department for approval but had yet to receive a reply.
“It is just a simple presentation to poor children, and it would be a nice occasion for them. I am not going to ‘talk politics’ to small kids,” said Dr Ramasamy.
He said that if the event were not held during school hours, it would be difficult to gather the pupils because of transportation problems as many of them lived far away.
He also said that Dr Toh had made a similar presentation in 2005 to more than 100 students in two Tamil primary schools in Central Seberang Prai. Dr Ramasamy said he would write again to the education department to seek approval.
“If they feel I shouldn’t go, I’ll send someone else,” he said, adding that he would have to make alternative arrangements if the department did not allow it to be held at a school or during school hour