VIENTIANE, Malaysia - Malaysian Examinations Syndicate director Dr Na'imah Ishak has been suspended with immediate effect over the leaks in this year's UPSR examination papers, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.
He said the syndicate's deputy director of operations Dr Wan Ilias Wan Salleh was also suspended.
Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said education deputy director-general (teaching professionalism development sector) Datuk Misrah Ibrahim would take over the duties and responsibilities of the director for now.
"The Education Ministry must take urgent and firm action because incidents like this will raise questions about the integrity of the examination syndicate and the overall public examinations system in the country," Bernama quoted him as saying at a press conference after attending the 8th ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting here yesterday.
He said the decision to suspend the two from their duties was taken because they had to take responsibility for the fiasco, which resulted in the cancellation of the English 014/1 and 014/2 and Science 018, 028 and 038 papers of the Primary School Achievement Test.
The papers had been leaked on social media before UPSR students could sit for them. The ministry has announced that the students will have to resit the papers on Sept 30.
Asked how long the two would be suspended, Muhyiddin said it would depend on the investigations.
Dr Na'imah, when contacted, said she was not in a position to say anything.
"I will take it as it is," she said when asked if she was shocked over her suspension.
Muhyiddin said a thorough investigation into the leaks had commenced and that those responsible would have to face the "full brunt of the law".
He said he empathised with the parents and Malaysians who were still angry about what had happened and that the ministry was acting urgently to allay their fears.
Muhyiddin described those responsible for the leaks as untrustworthy and traitors.
Commenting further on the suspensions, he said he was of the view the director knew the consequences because the leaks were not a small matter.
An incident like this, he said, could affect the credibility of the examination certificate and that the ministry would in no way compromise on this matter.
He added that the culprits never thought of the harm they were doing by their irresponsible act as close to half a million pupils would now have to resit the leaked papers on Sept 30.
In an immediate response, National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng described the suspensions as as an appropriate and efficient move by the Government, proving that it viewed the matter very seriously.
Meanwhile, in Putrajaya, the authorities, comprising representatives from the ministry, police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, had found four "hotspots" and zeroed in on several individuals in the investigations into the leaks.
Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said teams went to the ground on Thursday.
However, he declined to reveal which states the hotspots were in, saying it was under investigation.
He told a press conference at the Examinations Syndicate that the "traitors" would face the maximum possible penalty.
Misrah, who was also present, said Sept 30 was the most suitable date to hold both the Science and English papers.
"This is due to logistics and technical issues including the printing and distribution, security of the question papers and integrity. The process also involves the affected pupils, 51,438 invigilators, 8,299 centres and 382 strong rooms around the country," he said.