A group of parents have lodged police reports against a teacher at SK Bihai in Pos Bihai, near Gua Musang in Kelantan, for slapping their children because they did not recite the doa (Islamic prayer) after having their lunch.

One of the parents, Atar Pedik, said his two 12-year-old girls were slapped about 1.30pm on Tuesday, after the children were made to recite the doa even though they are not Muslims. 

"I was angry when I learnt what happened to my daughters," Atar said when contacted. 

Atar, along with two other fathers - Hassan Achoi and Along Pandak - whose 12-year-old daughters were also slapped in the incident, made the three-hour journey from Pos Bihai to lodge their reports at the Gua Musang police station. 

Pos Bihai is located in the interior of Kelantan, near its border with Perak. 

A check with the Gua Musang police station confirmed that the reports were lodged. 

According to SK Bihai Parent-Teacher Association deputy chairperson Arom Asir, the children's faces were bruised after they were slapped by the male teacher. 

NONEArom said that the primary school has at least 100 children, all of whom are Orang Asli, and the children were eating lunch together after sports. 

"They were made to recite prayers the Muslim way before and after meals but they didn't know how, so they kept quiet.

"Then the teacher picked out the older children and slapped them for being quiet," he said. 

Arom added that the parents did not know their children were being taught Islamic studies at the school or being made to recite Islamic prayers until earlier this week. 

"We then made a complaint on this to a Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) representative who came to visit us on Oct 23. Later that day, we found out that the children were slapped," he said.

Agencies in the dark

The phone number listed for SK Bihai connects directly to the Education Department and an officer there who answered our call referred Malaysiakini to the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa). 

However, Jakoa when contacted said that it has received no report on the matter and that it was gathering information about it. 

Arom said the parents would also lodge a complaint on the matter with Jakoa. The community is now arranging to hold a dialogue on the incident among the parents, the Education Department, Jakoa and Suhakam on Oct 30. 

"We feel that parents should have been consulted if the children are to be imparted with Islamic teachings," he said. 

Meanwhile, Orang Asli rights NGO Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM) in a press statement called on the relevant agencies to take stern action on the assault of the children. 

"Stern action should be taken against the teacher involved if he is guilty. 

"The relevant agencies should also investigate the claim that Orang Asli children are made to study a religion that is not their faith," JKOASM said. 

It also called on the government to put greater efforts to improve the quality of education provided at schools in the interior regions, such as SK Bihai. 

"Our observations show that... teachers only teach two or three days in a week," it said.