Schools in Penang have been instructed not to join this year’s Merdeka celebration organised by the state government pending instructions otherwise due to its “sensitive” theme.
The Penang government, which is led by DAP, is going with the theme “Bersih” for the state-level Merdeka Day celebration this year. The event will be held on mainland Penang on August 31.
Penang education department director Datuk Osman Hussain confirmed that principals and headmasters of all secondary and primary schools had been notified through a letter from his office yesterday.
They have been instructed not to join the event until further notice from the Education Ministry, he said.
“It is not that we are prohibiting schools from joining. We are still waiting for the green light from the ministry… there are still 10 days until Merdeka.
“The celebration here is organised by an opposition government and, this year, it has picked a theme that is rather sensitive.
“We worry that if schools take part, they will create a perception that they also support the Bersih 4 rally, which the federal authorities have declared illegal. That is the situation and the questions that have come up.
“Each year the theme by the state is different and previously there was no issue. Just that this time, the theme is sensitive,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted today.
A Penang Education Department letter barring schools from joining the state’s Merdeka celebrations.A Penang Education Department letter barring schools from joining the state’s Merdeka celebrations.
Osman said if the ministry gave them the green light, it would be fine for the schools to join the state celebration.
He said if no consent was given, the celebration would be held on school grounds.
“Now we can only wait for the ministry to decide,” Osman added.
The Bersih 4 rally by electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 is scheduled on August 29 and 30 in Kuala Lumpur and other major cities.
The event seeking to get Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to resign had been declared illegal by the police.
Najib is currently under severe criticism by the opposition and civil society over the controversies surrounding the debt-ridden state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad and the RM2.6 billion donation deposited into his personal accounts two years ago, shortly before the 13th general election.
The national Merdeka theme by the federal government this year is #sehatisejiwa which means “one heart, one soul”.