Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Meals in changing room incident—is the Education Minister powerless or heartless? Or both?

Media Statement by M Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat in Ipoh on Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Meals in changing room incident—is the Education Minister powerless or heartless? Or both?

On July 26, the Sun reported that Guneswari Kelly who exposed the photographs of the shower canteen controversy had received kidnap threats while her daughter was being bullied by both classmates and teachers in SK Seri Pristana.

Guneswari said that her nine-year-old daughter was depressed because she was being picked on at school.

"The students tease her about it, and the teachers berate her. They ask her why I did such a thing," she told the Sun.

Guneswari had reported the incident to the school's Parent-Teacher Association.

On July 30, it was reported in the news portal Free Malaysia Today that  a parent lodged a police report against the headmaster of SK Seri Pristina for taking photographs of pupils who allegedly reported him.

According to media report, Kumancan Veeriah said headmaster Mohd Nasir Mohd Noor had gone to the school, while he was on leave, and taken photographs of some non-Muslim students who he suspected had leaked the news that they were asked to have their meals in the school changing room, near the toilets.

Anyone would have expected the Education Ministry to spring into action to stop the bullying of the pupils and punish the headmaster and teachers.

But nothing has happened.

Yesterday,  the Free Malaysia Today reported that a parent who is close to the whistleblower Guneswari had revealed that the nine-year-old daughter of Guneswari is facing tremendous pressure in her school, forcing her parents to even consider transferring her to another school.

The daughter, who had become distraught and embarrassed by the finger pointing, was being ostracized by her classmates. Even her attempt to win back friends by giving away pencil and highlighters had failed.

The report has met with public anger and worry.

Many people simply cannot believe that the teachers could be so unprofessional and cruel as to inflict such psychological cruelty and pain on Guneswari's daughter.

Many are also worried about the impact of the bullying and ostracizing on her.

But the strongest public sentiment is their utter disappointment and disgust against the Education Minister and his Ministry officials for not taking the necessary actions.

On July 31, I had said that the headmaster had committed act of intimidation and should be hauled up for disciplinary inquiry and action.

I had  also called on  the Education Minister to send a top officer to address the school assembly and convey the message that his Ministry will not tolerate any intimidation , bullying or discrimination against the pupils whose photos of them having meals in the changing room had appeared in the social media.

Yet, the Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin has not done anything.

Acts of intimidation, bullying and discrimination certainly cannot be trivial matters to the Education Ministry.

I want to ask Tan Sri Muhyiddin a question – are you powerless or heartless? Or both?

If the Education Minister does not take immediate and necessary steps to stop the bullying of the pupils, I will raise the issue in the coming parliamentary meeting and ask him why he should not be called a powerless and heartless Education Minister.

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