GEORGE TOWN (May 7, 2008):
Former Barisan Nasional (BN) state executive councillor Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon expressed disappointment at the attitude of the the Penang education department for refusing to allow the current state government from distributing prescription spectacles to children of Tamil schools during school hours.
"Why is it that it was okay for me to go to the schools when I was executive councillor but not for the executive councillor of a different party?" asked the former state education committee chairman.
"It is also not fair that the education minister at the federal level can go to schools, but not the state executive councillor for education."
Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Dr P.Ramasamy, who also succeeded Toh’s portfolio after the May 8 elections, had told the press on Monday (May 5) of the current education committee’s plan to distribute spectacles to 223 pupils from 11 Tamil schools in Seberang Perai Utara on May 12.
However, the education department told him they were not allowed to do so during school hours.
"I urge the department to allow Ramasamy to deliver the spectacles so the students' visions can be corrected," Toh said in a telephone interview.
"I am disappointed with the attitude of the department. Although the programme was initiated by me, it was very kind of Ramasamy to continue it. He saw the social value in it."
Toh said he had initiated the programme due to concerns that the students' poor health would affect their academic performance.
"Many students did not even know they had vision problems," he said.
"We managed to get the state to intervene and pay for the spectacles."
"We conducted medical assessments camps in several areas, particularly where there are Tamil schools, and found as many as 100 to 200 children needing spectacles to correct their vision."