Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid should agree to an urgent debate in Parliament on Monday on the SK Pos Tohoi tragedy of the seven missing children for seven weeks, leaving only two survivors

It has been reported that the Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan was ‘livid’ over the deplorable education conditions for Orang Asli children, especially in SK Pos Tohoi, the boarding school in Gua Musang where seven school children ranging from seven to eleven years were missing for seven weeks and with only two survivors.

Kamalanathan said he would investigate claims there were only male teachers in SK Pos Tohoi, as this was not supposed to happen.

As I said yesterday, the majority of the students at SK Pos Tohoi are female, but there was not a single female teacher as all the eight teachers are male. The hostel has four wardens and only one of them is a female.

What is the use of the Deputy Education Minister ‘livid’ over the deplorable education conditions for Orang Asli children when the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Education Minister Datuk Madhzir Khalid are totally indifferent and unconcerned, which was why they never breathed a word about the SK Pos Tohoi tragedy although five of the seven school children have clearly perished.

Even with the discovery the two missing children, Mirsudiar Aluj, 11, and Norieen Yakob, 10, in “skin and bones”, both Najib and Mahdzir had not shown any interest or concern?

Other Prime Ministers and Education Ministers would have already made site visits to SK Pos Tohoi in Gua Musang, but when will Najib and Mahdzhir break their seven-week silence on the SK Pos Tohoi tragedy to show their interest and concern?

Why was Kamalanathan only ‘livid’ over the lack of female teacher for the SK Pos Tohoi when the majority of students are female, but not over the scandal and tragedy of seven Orang Asli children ranging from seven to 11 years who had gone missing for seven weeks, leaving only two survirors?

Were Kamalathan, Mahdzir and Najib “livid” over the criminal negligence and neglect of the teachers and Education Department officials who did not even inform the kids’ parents that their children were missing until several days later?

This was discovered by two DAP elected representatives, Kasthuri Patto, MP for Batu Kawan and Yeo Bee Ying, Selangor State Assemblywoman for Damansara Utama, when they visited Gua Musang recently.

Furthermore, why did it took four days before the authorities launched a search-and-rescue (SAR) operation?

It is most shocking that the parents of the missing kids and the Orang Asli communities were prevented by the authiorities from organising their own SAR and that the Pasukan Gerakan Am Senoi Praaq, an elite team under the police and consists mostly of Orang Asli men who are experts in jungle terrain, were only deployed on Sept 29 – more than a month after the children went missing.

Even more shocking, the missing Orang Asli kids were all the time within 1km of their school hostel – as if to underline the total breakdown of responsibility, professionalism and competence by all the relevant authorities responsible for the seven Orang Asli children gone missing and subsequent efforts to search and rescue them.

DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok has given notice to adjourn Parliament on Monday on Oct 19 for an urgent debate on the SK Pos Tohoi tragedy and I hope that the Education Minister Datuk Mahdzir Khalid would not only agree to such an emergency debate, but would personally be in Parliament to give a report and accounting as to why the SK Pos Tohoi tragedy happened, what measures had been taken to ensure that there would be no repetition of the tragedy, and what punishments had been meted out to the teachers and education department officials who, by their negligence, indifference and callousness, had disgraced their profession and the trust the kids and parents placed on them.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah