Baru: Seven schools in seven months too high a number

KUCHING: State PKR chairman Baru Bian was dismayed to read about yet another fire in a rural school, this time at SK Sungai Sugai in Pakan.

He said seven schools in the State partially turned to ashes in seven months was too high a number, an indication of the neglect our rural schools had been subjected to over the past few decades.

“It appears that our schools are places of high fire risk. This is unacceptable…parents must be worried about sending their children to such schools. It is lucky that no lives have been lost in these fires so far,” he said in a press statement received here yesterday.

Baru, who is Ba Kelalan assemblyman, was commenting on the seven fire cases involving schools over the past seven months.

He said schools that were well-built, properly maintained and equipped with fire extinguishers were essential, if the government wanted to provide quality education for our children.

“Enough has been written about the shocking dilapidated conditions of our schools. Two years ago, Minister of Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Datuk Fatimah Abdullah was reported to have said there were 800 schools in the State which continued to be used despite being declared unfit for occupancy. I wonder whether the figures have improved or worsened.

“What has happened with the ‘shifts’ of the Education Blueprint for 2013-2025, one of which is to ‘ensure 100 per cent of schools meet basic infrastructure requirements by 2015, starting with Sabah and Sarawak’?

“When will the federal government take us seriously? Do we have to wait until lives are lost? How galling for us to read about the RM2.6 billion channeled into the bank account of Malaysian Official No. 1, the RM114 million (and counting) Sabah Water Department scandal, and the RM650 million to be spent on Taman Tugu in Kuala Lumpur, when our schoolchildren do not even have proper schools to study.”

Baru recalled that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his deputy Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, as well as local BN politicians had made numerous promises before the state elections in May this year.

This included the following schools: RM1 million (PM) for SK St Lawrence, Sri Aman; RM500,000 (DPM) for SM Riam; RM500,000 (DPM) for SK Pujut Corner, RM500,000 (DPM) for SM Pei Min; Unspecified (PM) for SK Long Laput; Unspecified (PM) for SMK Matu upgrade; RM300,000 (PM) for SJK Chung

Hua Bau; RM35 million (PM) for SMK Long Semadoh; RM2 million (Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem) for Riam Road Secondary School; and RM500,000 (Adenan Satem) for SJK Thai Kwang.

He said perhaps Fatimah could enlighten the people on the status of these promises.

“The prime minister has asked the people to contribute ideas for Budget 2017. He should make it a point to fulfill all past promises and ensure sufficient allocation to execute the fancy Education Blueprint before making more empty promises to the people.

The federal government has to show us more respect and sincerity.”

Baru added that Malaysia could never claim to be a developed nation when the government subjected school children to studying and living in damaged, decaying and derelict buildings.

“This is the ultimate betrayal of the people who entrust their future to us.”-BP

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