Sunday, March 11, 2012

Oldest primary school in Bintulu needs rebuilding

IN CELEBRATION: Zaiedy (centre), flanked by Abidah (second left) and other guests, launches OKMS 100th anniversary opening ceremony.

BINTULU: The first and the oldest primary school in Bintulu, SK Orang Kaya Mohammad (OKMS) needs to be rebuilt.

In the school’s 100th year anniversary celebration yesterday, political secretary to Bintulu MP, Zaiedy Nor Abu Nassir who graced the function said a turn of event which should not have happened had terminated the rebuilding plan.

In a visit 2 years ago, Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing and a minister concerned agreed that the best solution for the dilapidated school was to rebuild it instead of just making improvements to it to ensure the safety of students and teachers.

A 5-acre site had been identified which is adjacent to the current school, at the old Bintulu Airport.

However, as the community waited for the announcement of the good news, a turn of event took place and a company, Naim Cendera, showed an interest in acquiring 50 acres of land in that area, of which the 5-acre land was part of it.

Zaiedy said this should not have happened as acquisition should be on a first-come-first-served basis and expressed unhappiness on the way the state government handled the issue.

The government, he said had come up with initiatives by giving allocation for repair works but maintenance alone was not enough for an old school like OKMS.

For a solution, Zaiedy proposed the company to put the school’s reconstruction plan as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project.

“Let them build the school as part of their contribution to the local community, I speak like the opposition but this is the fact, this is the rights of the people here, 5-acre, a school is nothing for this big company and instead they can contribute something,” he explained.

Another solution, Zaiedy proposed was to build the new school on the current 5.3 acre site, adding that “We can (even) preserve its historical value, on how it has contributed significantly in producing great leaders for the locals.”

Zaiedy. however, pointed out that for the rebuilding of the school, certain legal technicalities needed to be ironed out first. 

Foremost, for the project to be enlisted and implemented under the 10th Malaysia Plan, the status of land ownership, he said, needed to be changed under the federal government instead of the state government to ensure the project does not take years to complete, citing the rebuilding of SK Kampung Baru as an example of delay.

The school’s Parent-Teacher Association chairman Khalidi Dahiri also urged the authorities concerned to take immediate action on the rebuilding of the school.

“As you can see, the environment is not conducive to teaching and learning, not safe, thus I appeal to the relevant authorities, politicians and non-governmental organisations to come forward and assist us,” he said.

Meanwhile, in her welcoming speech at the school’s 100th anniversary celebration, headmistress Abidah Semail said being the first formal school in Bintulu in 1912, OKMS will continue to provide and improve its services for the country’s educational system to produce quality human capital.

“This quality human capital is an important asset to the country and the school has proven it in the past in producing great leaders,” she said.

Various activities were also held by the school and its alumni committee in celebrating OKMS’ 100th anniversary.