The government has announced that school teachers under the Education Ministry (MoE) nationwide are now allowed to get involved in politics with immediate effect, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakoh said.
The permission also involved the staff of the Community Development Division (Kemas).
He said the MoE should issue a circular about the permission immediately if it is not yet available.
“I have already brought this matter to the cabinet and decided, in line with the democratic rights of the people which is the permission for people to get involved in politics, to allow teachers to be political.”
“Before this, Kemas staff were allowed to get involved in politics but during the Pakatan Harapan (PH) era, they were disallowed to do so. Hence, I would like to announce that Kemas staff are now allowed to get involved in politics.”
“If it has not been issued, I hope MoE will issue the circular immediately so that no pressure is placed on these teachers,” he said, reported Bernama.
He also said there was a circular prohibiting teachers from getting involved in politics. However, Ismail explained that the teachers and Kemas staff are still subject to the rules of their respective departments.
“Teachers, for example, while in politics they should not neglect their duties. Otherwise, disciplinary action can be taken and so on, it is up to the department to make an assessment,” he said.
Right after the announcement was made, former international trade and industry minister Rafidah Aziz immediately slammed Ismail for allowing teachers to be involved in politics, adding that this will lead to the spread of “political propaganda” in our schools.
Rafidah said the decision was “very concerning”, as those with ties to certain political parties could impart harmful messages to their “impressionable” students.
She claims this would affect their values and principles and could erode the value placed on diversity.
Meanwhile, she acknowledges that anyone has the right to participate in the political process, but there must be certain limits to ensure divisive discourse is avoided.
“Some things can be conveyed under the cover of ‘education’ that can impinge upon the diversity of our society which encapsulates race, religion and gender.”
“This can trigger problems in society,” she said, adding that the decision would further impact the education system, which is already plagued with “shortcomings and inadequacies”.
“There must be a limit to politics and politicisation, and the unbridled greed for personal political survival.”