Monday, 26 March 2012

Serdang Tamil School: “Siapa akan tanggung kos bangunan ini? PIBG atau LPS?”

-Gopal Thirumalai/Vinod, 25.3.12
SRJK(T) Serdang is located less than 1km away from Universiti Putra Malaysia and a mere 10 minutes’ drive from Putrajaya.
The school was started in 1936 with one teacher and 40 students. The current enrolment is about 700 students and is one of the 132 fully aided schools from the total of 523 Tamil Primary schools nationwide.
As a parent of one of the students of the school and as one of the former students from the same school, I would like to highlight the plight of the students and parents of the school, which also reflects the state of other Tamil Schools in the country.
Although the school is fully aided, we literally have to beg with the Education Department for everything, including the maintenance and repairing of the infrastructures of the school.
At times, the PIBG will contribute some fund to do minor repairing works. The newspaper cutting above is from the year 1963, when the new building was officiated by the then Menteri Besar.
The building was declared unsafe by JKR in 2002. Despite several appeals, the JKR never lifted their fingers and always came up with the standard answer “Tiada peruntukkan tahun ini” (No budget allocation for this year). It was a disaster waiting to happen and it duly happened at around 8am on the 16th February 2012.
The ceiling in one of the classes collapsed suddenly while lesson was going on and luckily, the teacher managed to bring all the students out from the class before it collapsed further, bringing down huge amount of debris. By God’s grace, no one was injured but the real drama started only after that.
The school is located in the Sri Serdang state constituency, under BN ( Datuk Satim bin Diman) and under Serdang Parliamentary seat, under PR. Datuk Satim, who won the seat by less than 50 votes in the last election, did not even bother to respond or visit. Meanwhile, politicians from PR were barred from entering the school compounds, as per one circular from the Educational Department in the 1990s.
The school authorities contacted the respective departments and personnels. Datuk K Devamani immediately paid a visit, promised to build temporary cabins within two weeks for the students to study, with plans for another permanent building in future and bragged about the amount of money spent by BN in the past few years (in the region of few hundred millions at least) for Tamil Schools as well as some unrelated stuffs like ETP and etc.
Some of my friends cheekily said that this a normal “Wayang Kulit” show as he has no power to do anything. I realised it now that they were just telling the plain truth.
It is almost 3 weeks already and our children still don’t have classroom to use. Lessons are conducted at canteen and some empty space between buildings. The children are suffering due to hot weather and cannot concentrate on their studies. A lady officer from JKR visited the school recently and said that JKR is willing to build the new building but asked a funny question, “Siapa akan tanggung kos bangunan ini? PIBG atau LPS?” (Who is going to bear the cost? PTA or The School Board?
Can someone tell this lady that this school is a fully aided school and it is the responsibility of the present government to provide the basic infrastructures? By right, we should sue the department for failing provide a safe building.
Some even suggested that we should approach the state government, but I disagree. As far as I know, I have been paying taxes since 1993 to the Central Government under BN, just like all Malaysians so why the hell should I go around and begging people?
Isn’t it BN’s duty to provide basic infrastructures as we pay tax to it? And don’t tell me that you don’t have enough money. 1% of the loan given to Sharizat’s family is enough to build a 3 storey building here. Imagine that this is happening to a fully aided school! How about partially aided schools? Don’t you collect taxes from them too?
Why are you discriminating us, BN? The PM wants us to put `nambikkai’ (trust) on BN and I don’t have to give a better example on why we shouldn’t trust the BN government!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Tamil school aid: Whither the millions? - FMT

B Nantha Kumar | March 21, 2012

The government has promised millions to upgrade Tamil schools, but one pertinent question remains.
KUALA LUMPUR: The government has promised millions of ringgit to upgrade Tamil schools in the country but one question still remains.
Would the millions really be spent on the reconstruction of these schools or would it go to crony contractors; or be channeled back to the government?
The lack of transparency in releasing the funds had raised heckles from non-governmental organisations, who wanted a system to streamline funds to ensure it reached the “target” group fast.
Commenting on this, Malaysian Consumer Advisory Association (MCAA) president G Varatharajoo said apart from the Public Works Department (JKR), the Education Ministry and MIC were also to be blamed for the “improper” administration of the RM100 million set aside as special allocation for Tamil schools under the 2012 Budget announced by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who is also finance minister, last year.
He said the Finance Ministry had yet to release the money to the affected Tamil schools because the Education Ministry was in the final stages of approving over 230 Tamil schools identified to receive the aid.
FMT learnt that all qualified Tamil schools were divided into three categories — relocation, additional building and upgrading of existing infrastructures.
According to documents furnished to FMT, about RM40 million had been allocated to 16 schools under the relocation plan, 20 schools stood to get RM38.3 million for additional buildings while another 173 schools would receive RM18 million for infrastructure upgrade.
Varatharajoo said although the Malaysian Indian community welcomed the government’s assistance with open arms, it was concerned over the delay in disbursing these funds and the estimated cost quoted by the JKR.
“The estimated cost set by the JKR is really absurd… for example JKR has fixed RM1.5 million for an additional building with six classrooms. This means each classroom costs around RM250,000 which is really too much,” he said.
“When we checked with a few private contractors, we found that a classroom will only cost between RM70,000 and RM75,000. So it is clear that the JKR quoted prices that have been ‘jacked-up’ three fold than the actual cost,” he added.
He said going by these estimates, in actual fact the government would only complete work amounting to RM33 million out of the RM100 million set aside under the 2012 Budget.
“This is because the relevant authorities especially JKR has quoted three-fold prices. While work will be done for RM35 million, the remainder of the allocation will either go back to the government or into the pockets of contractors or cronies given the contracts,” he added.
Set up board of governors
Negeri Sembilan Tamil School Board of Governors (LPS) coordinator R Sathiaseelan felt that the government should channel funds to a particular school’s board of governors instead of allowing JKR to deal directly with appointed contractors.
“LPS is the best way to channel the money. The board consists of representatives from the Education Ministry, the schools’ parent-teachers association, former students, the public and the headmaster or headmistress. They will know how to spend the money wisely,” he added.
He said efforts were underway to form a board of governors in all Tamil schools as they could act as the conduit between the government and the school.
“As the Negeri Sembilan coordinator, I visited all the Tamil schools in the state and received good response from parents and the public on this suggestion,” he added.
He also lashed out at MIC, touted to be the largest Indian based political party in the country, as it did not favour the setting-up of the board of governors in Tamil schools nationwide.
“With the LPS set-up, MIC feels it would lose its grip on Tamil schools as the government would be dealing directly with the LPS and not through MIC,” he added.
He said the Education Act stated that a school’s LPS would be the authority when it came to matters relating to the infrastructure of a school.
There was also a need Najib to clarify his claim recently that RM440million had been spent on Tamil schools from 2008 to 2012.
The prime minister must reveal details of how the money was spent and which school benefited from the huge allocation.