One rule to fit all not applicable

Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew

SIBU: The closures of all schools throughout the country is not a well thought out action plan to deal with Covid-19 spread.

It is reactionary and again using one rule to fit all, said Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew.

“Since the start of the pandemic in March, large areas of Sarawak remain green zones and some towns and divisions on yellow zones throughout the movement control order (MCO) and recovery movement control order (RMCO). The people in these areas abide by the rules generally. They pay a huge price in order to comply to help fight the virus.”

“We just started to pick up and adjust to the new norm — physical distancing, wearing of face mask, regular hand washing and no big gatherings. Those communities that have followed these new norms remain to have no or low cases. They have played their part. Now they are again adversely affected for a problem not of their creation and these students are again at the losing end,” he said on Monday (Nov 9).

It is therefore disappointing to see that after more than half a year, the same decision to close all schools were made without taking into consideration factors such as the differences in areas that are badly affected and those that are not, he said.

Lau said that most of the areas badly affected are cities or places with large population.

The smaller towns, kampungs and rural communities are in the clear, he added.

Take for example, he said the central region of Sarawak (Sibu, Sarikei, Mukah and Kapit Divisions) make up 1/3rd of Sarawak land mass and is also equivalent to 1/3rd of Malaya.

“This area is in the clear. Why should the schools be closed? It is good and well to say students and teachers can continue using e-learning when the reality on the ground shows that many of these areas have poor or non-existence internet connectivity.”

“Such one-size-fits-all decision does not bode well to reduce the gap between the haves and have not; the urban and the rural communities. While the urban children have the alternative of internet classes and support of much better facilities and infrastructure, the rural communities are left to pay the price for a problem where they contribute little to,” he said.

Lau therefore urge policy makers and administrators to review their decisions and take into considerations the factors mentioned above.

“I suggest that decision making of schools closure in Sarawak be delegated to the State. Sarawak is a huge territory and decision such as school opening or closing to fight the virus war should be made at the State level,” he said.