The prime minister and Cabinet are to be commended for their timely and welcome intervention in the non-renewal of lease for the Convent Bukit Nanas (CBN) school matter.
The recent revelation as reported in the media by a former minister in charge of natural resources and the present federal territories minister that they were unaware or not fully informed at the relevant time of the lease extension issue for CBN had raised concerns about the formulation and implementation of federal government land and education policies for mission schools.
It appears as reported in the media that the policy purportedly used to justify the non-renewal of the CBN lease by some federal land agencies was not one formulated at the Cabinet level and may have contradicted the earlier publicly declared policy by then-deputy prime minister and education minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, as reported in The Star on Jan 25, 2013.
It was reported in The Star that Muhyiddin had stated that the education ministry had no objection to extending the leases for mission schools as long as they were used for education. It was also reported that then-director-general of education, Abdul Ghafar Mahmud, had stated that a circular would be sent to all state education directors telling them that mission school authorities should be consulted when appointing school heads.
Since that date there appears to have been no publicly announced change in policy. Any such change would have to be made by the Cabinet after considering all factors and the input from stakeholders, since the mission schools would have taken steps in line with that policy. Certainly it is not within the power of federal land agencies or even a single ministry to change such policies without Cabinet approval.
In view of the above, it was just and proper that the prime minister and Cabinet intervened to reverse the decision of the federal lands commissioner and grant an extension of the lease for CBN. This is consistent with the lauded policy of the government for mission schools to have a role in nation-building, a role they continue to perform with dedication and distinction.
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