The high level of UMNO politicisation of the
government continued unabated throughout the past 44 years. But it
did not rate any concern so long as the Malay opposition was weak and disorganised.
When Tengku Razaleigh, yes the current Kelantan strongman, raised his banner
of revolt after he challenged the Prime Minister for the UMNO presidency
in 1987, this was, briefly, an issue. It is now questioned virulently
by an energized opposition, with a defensive UMNO attacking any who goes
against what it considers fair, and absorbs any who agrees with it.
So, a routine query from one of those present in a closed-door discussion
with an UMNO supreme council member, albeit a cabinet minister, is proof
that primary school teachers are politicised! But if Datin Rafidah
Aziz thought the remark serious enough, should she not have brought it
cabinet's, and the education minister's, attention, instead of trying to make political capital out of it? Why did she not do that? Why is UMNO so ready to assume that this practice is widespread when, on what we know, only one primary school teacher is involved? If the problem is serious, what steps does the education ministry take besides politicising the issue?
The UMNO, and National Front, high command
is caught in a web of its own making. When civil servants cannot
exercise their political rights except to support the government, the political
debate becomes a mockery; when the government encourages teachers
and others to be active in politics, it has always penalised those who
back the opposition; but with the Malay ground fractured and uncertain,
this view is challenged. It would continue to be, so long as the
National Front grasp at straws to beat the opposition with. But if
the National Front is serious about reducing the politics in the administrative
public service, then it should categorically reprimand any, including its own ministers, when they stray from the line. The education minister is a regular culprit, but just about every member of th cabinet, from the prime minister down, is guilt of this. If it does not, then expect the politics to intensify.