Playing in water is every child’s favourite pastime activity. Therefore, when Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said hotels, clubs, associations, or others alike, should open up their pools for students to swim, we couldn’t help but feel envious of the initiative coming only now and not during our time when we were in school. But honestly, how feasible is it? The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) has a lot to say on this.
Maszlee made the announcement on Wednesday (Nov 21) during a press conference after launching the 2018 Life Saving Skills programme and the Water Rescue and Safety Awareness Module, The Sun Daily reported. He said this would be an opportunity for hotels to carry out their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) duty and he urged the private sector to be proactive in materializing this suggestion.
When asked if the activity would be a side co-curriculums for students, Maszlee said the ministry is looking to make it a mandatory syllabus from pre-school to secondary school. However, he admitted the initiative would take a long time to achieve as there are over 10,000 schools nationwide.
In light of the recent drowning cases, Maszlee said this initiative is part of the ministry’s efforts to prepare students to learn how to swim and educate the importance of water safety. He revealed that the activity would first be introduced in clubs and associations.
Following the announcement, the MAH chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said the idea would defeat the purpose of tourists coming to hotels for a leisure stay.
“Most, if not all, swimming pools in hotels are meant for leisure.
“Which means they are not built with the needed size, shape, depth and design for swimming lessons, especially not for groups of children,” the hotel association CEO told The Star in an interview.
Yap said some hotels have been providing their venue for ad hoc school activities to fulfil their CSR duty. He also said there would be “accessibility concerns” as hotel facilities are exclusively prepared for paid guests and they are dedicated for their use only.
“From a tourism point of view, it could pose a negative impression on tourists.
“We do hope the ministry will study the idea carefully with practicability and safety of school children as priority,” Yap said.
True that. Nobody wants to pay big bucks on a vacation only to see the hotel pool is used for swimming lessons.
According to The Borneo Post, Balingian assemblyman Abdul Yakub Arb commanded the suggestion but said that most rural schools don’t have hotels with swimming pools in the areas. He said transporting the students to the nearest swimming pools would be costly as the trip would take hours. He said the idea isn’t feasible and told the ministry to study the feasibility, especially in Sarawak, before putting up such a proposal.
In response, Mazlee said the matter should be viewed positively as he urged the members of the public to look at the big picture. He also blamed the media for trivializing the issue as it fails to send out the message of the importance of water safety, Malay Mail and The Star reported.
“Please don’t trivialise the issue of water safety and saving lives and make me the object of ridicule.
“I am upset that something so important such as teaching our children water safety and how to save lives has been misconstrued by the media,” he was reported as saying in Parliament lobby yesterday (Nov 22).