@malaysiakini read my full statement. defending investment in early childhood care & education (ECCE) is not d same as defending Rosmah. https://twitter.com/mkini_bm/status/781343490034634752 …
The Permata child enrichment programme helmed by prime minister’s wife Rosmah Mansor now has an unlikely defender in the form of a Selangor DAP assemblyperson.
Damansara Utama representative Yeo Bee Yin said the government’s investment in early childhood care and education (ECCE) has statistically proven to benefit tax payers by lowering social welfare costs, decreasing crime, raising tax revenue and having the highest return of investment for human capital development.
“Therefore, any government initiative to develop ECCE, including Permata, should not be brushed off immediately just because the person who advocates it is not likable,” Yeo said in a statement today.
“Whether Permata gets international recognition or not does not matter. What matters is that Putrajaya makes and executes a comprehensive and holistic plan to ensure that good quality childcare is available at an affordable price.
“(This is) so that all our children will have equal opportunity to learn and develop in the early age, regardless of the income levels of the familes,” she added.
Yeo was responding to all the buzz surrounding Permata after Rosmah was supposed to receive the ‘Lead by Example’ award, from the Antiquities Coalition, for the programme’s accomplishments.
However, Permata was removed from the list of honourees after the Antiquities Coalition was quizzed by the media about Permata’s sources of funding, a spokesperson from the organisation said on Monday.
The award was deferred to next year, but the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement on Tuesday that Rosmah and Permata had declined it.
The PMO said Rosmah made the decision to avoid further distraction from the important work for the children of Malaysia.
Lack of strategic direction by Putrajaya
Despite defending the Permata initiative, Yeo lamented that despite the generous annual funding, there was a general “lack of strategic direction by Putrajaya in ECCE development”.
“There is no plan to ensure there is good quality childcare and pre-school education at an affordable price for all Malaysian children,” she added.
She said childcare expenses, especially in the Klang Valley where it can be as high as RM2,000 a month, are a burden for young families.
This, Yeo said, results in women having to leave the workforce to take care of their children, which has a negative impact on household income.
This was also an economic loss for Malaysia, as there are now more women with tertiary education qualifications than men.
Yeo proposed that the government remedies the situation by following the example of Singapore, Australia, Finland other Scandinavian countries, where childcare is subsidised.