Are our children anti-Government?

Are we teaching and encouraging our children to learn to think and criticise constructively?

Few weeks back, an international school was probed for alleged “anti-palm oil propaganda activities” over their school’s performance. Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok openly berated the school for allowing its students to be critical of palm oil. The Education Ministry even stated that the probe would be carried out in accordance with the Education Act 1966 (Act 550).

I have seen the video for myself which is uploaded on Youtube and I do not see any serious “propaganda” elements in it. 

From my understanding, there are several keywords that the students wanted to deliver in the message which are, “the orangutans are disappearing, which is caused by deforestation”, “one of the cause of deforestation is the production of unsustainable palm oil” and “we have to ensure palm oil is produced sustainably.”

The fact that the numbers of orang utan is shrinking and it should be a concern for Malaysia as it is one of our protected species. One of the main reasons for the disappearance of orangutans is indeed deforestation. Production of palm oils indeed needs to sacrifice a certain part of the forests, but the students did not even mention any specific country that has been producing unsustainable palm oil. The students did not even advocate for the stop of producing palm oil, instead they did mention the importance of producing sustainable palm oil at the end of their performance.

As a matter of fact, palm oil is one of our key economic drivers. I agree that we have to protect and promote it. But the opportunity cost of this resource is that we have to sacrifice a part of our forest. I am not saying that we should stop it as well; but as a responsible global citizen, the industry has to keep on researching best practices to bring sustainability in producing palm oil.

I am confident in our nation’s best practices of producing sustainable palm oil. The Ministry has been spending funds to run a “Love My Palm Oil” campaign. If there is a lack of confidence towards our own palm oil, that just indicates the failure of the campaign. Does the campaign educate on the sustainability of our palm oil? Or it just simply teaches people to drink palm oil daily?

How Teresa Kok and the Government reacted to the school and students is basically a conventional way of teaching kids. Children were not allowed to be critical, they have to just follow what is taught and have to support the establishment. 

In fact, the students have been advocating for the environment, which is an important topic for the world’s future. And we should be really glad these children are concerned about it. How many of our kids today really understand the problems of our world? Even the majority of us adults are not practicing good habits of protecting the environment. How many are even aware of the dangers of single-use plastics? How many even bothered to recycle their wastes? 

Do we want our children to support the Government because they understand our sustainable efforts in producing palm oil or do we want them to have the impression that they are “forced” to support the Government?

When we are talking about improving our nation, when we are talking about ‘Malaysia Baru’; we should encourage our people, especially the young ones, to learn to think constructively. We have to allow the youth to develop new ideas and plan for our nation and our world.

If this is not even allowed, then what is the point of reducing the age limit of voters to 18 years old, what is the point of reducing the age definition of youth to 30 years old? The actions of the Government does not even empower youth, and by just amending the age numbers is not doing the right thing, they are just doing the thing right.

Ideas, ideologies and opinions are the factors that have successfully changed the Government last year. That has given hope for the people for a Malaysia Baru.

If the students and Malaysians are not allowed to voice out their thoughts, then what is the point of changing the Government in the first place? What is the relevance of Malaysia Baru?

Above all, in the video, I really don’t see any anti-palm oil, defamatory and anti-Government elements by the children of the international school. Taking action against the school is only teaching the wrong values to them.