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Monday, September 30, 2013

Seri Pristana, Alam Megah and now Engku Husain. Next change? - Ravinder Singh



Three shows have been highlighted so far, all based on the theme of racism directed at non-Muslim children. The Censor Board in this case, the Ministry of Education, has not censured the presenters of these shows.
In other words, it sees no wrong being done as those at the receiving end are non-Muslims. In this country, only Muslims seem to have sensitivities and it is their sensitivities that have to be strongly defended and protected by the government machinery, at all costs.
The rest are expected to understand the concept of “Ketuanan Melayu”. The rest are therefore “hamba” (slaves) that have to forgive the “tuans” (masters) without asking for an apology. This is the strong message that was delivered by the Seri Pristana show.
Why is it that when teachers get angry when children’s misbehave at assemblies, they have to tell them to “balik India” and “balik Cina”? Are these teachers so sure that those misbehaving are only the Indian and Chinese students who are a minority, in some cases a very small minority, in these schools?
How come that only the Indian and Chinese students misbehave while the majority of Malay students do not? What is the secret that makes for this difference? If the Malay children could be taught or trained to behave well at the assemblies, why are the Indian and Chinese students not trained the same way, or cannot be trained to do the same?
The Education Ministry set a bad precedent by bending backwards to defend the headmaster of Seri Pristana whose toilet cafeteria idea was pre-planned and well-executed. If not for a parent’s blowing the whistle, it would have been a perfect plot.
To control the damage, story after story was created to deceive the public at large, but not a shred of evidence has been shown to prove that the canteen was under renovation since March.
Three months of renovations would mean that the works were quite major. Major renovations cannot be just hidden away without any sign. So, dear Education Minister II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan, don’t just talk but also walk the talk. Show us the evidence of the renovation work. Show us the credibility of your words. Don’t forget that seeing is believing.
The way that the two ministers made their surprise fact-finding visits to the school followed by the instant pronunciation of their verdicts, it is as if they have some magical prowess of investigations.
As soon as they land at a school to investigate some scandalous happening, they seem to become so well appraised of every fact, as though through some sixth sense, that they are able to pronounce a verdict immediately.
The verdict, co-incidentally, always clears the culprits. And above all, as they are supposed to be infallible, their word is final and binding. No review; no appeal. Just accept the verdict and move on.
Covering up for the wrongdoers is “giving face”. In Malay, they say “bagi muka”. And when you “bagi muka” the mischief goes on, getting worse along the way. How then do you turn back the clock?
Our school children’s indiscipline is a long known fact but one about which the Education Ministry is in a strong denial and defensive mode. Now it is teacher indiscipline. What kind of investigations is the Ministry carrying out?
Are teachers suffering burnout? Are they going bonkers? Many teachers are nowadays going for psychiatric counseling sessions at hospitals. Why?
Have these teachers who are so quick to shoot the words “balik India, balik Cina” been put through Biro Tatanegara brainwashing courses?
Are these teachers members or even active office bearers of political parties? If so, their political ideas are bound to find their way into their duties as teachers. In the 1950s teachers were barred from joining political parties.
After Merdeka they were allowed to and were important political party people especially in the rural areas, since they were the “educated ones”. Then they were again barred from being political party members. This restriction was lifted sometime in 2009 after Barisan Nasional lost its two-thirds majority in 2008.
Education and politics must never mix. Teachers, and in fact, all other government servants also, should never be allowed to join political parties as they have to serve whichever party forms the government.
When government servants are members of political parties, their political ideas and loyalties are sure to find their way into their duties. This may be to the benefit of the political parties, but is certainly detrimental to the national interests. They cannot serve two masters.
The problem is when they are members of the ruling party, they feel they are serving the same master and that it is their duty to implement their political masters’ agendas in the course of their duties.
In the latest case, i.e of Engku Husain, Parents-Teachers Association president Prof Datuk Ali Hasan is reported to have lambasted teachers who felt it was acceptable to tell students to return to where their ancestors came from. He said "In my opinion they need serious re-training to refresh their minds on acceptable teacher-student behaviour."

Prof Ali went on to say that teachers and educators who were found to racialise education should remember their roles in guiding children. "The spirit of bangsa Malaysia should be inculcated in them, so they will extend it to their students instead of dividing issues racially."
He said that educators who caused racial issues should be dealt with, regardless of position.
Hats off to Prof Ali for his stand. However, he cannot implement it as that is the Education Ministry’s duty. Will the Ministry do it? Will the Ministry’s officers assigned to investigate such incidences present honest findings, or make findings to clear the culprits?
The honesty of in-house investigations is very much in doubt from past experiences. Such investigations should be by neutral parties, for example, Suhakam.
First step therefore, to honestly get to the bottom of the three shows of racism in schools should be to assign the investigative job to an independent panel like Suhakam. In-house investigations are not independent and therefore not acceptable. 

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