15 JANUARY 2015
I could not believe my eyes when I read about the Lun Bawang student who was sent home because she was wearing a baju kurung to school at SMK Seri Mutiara Cheras. Just when you think the bigotry and idiocy in this country cannot possibly get any worse, another incident hits you in the face to prove you wrong.
Even school uniforms have become a racial issue? This is a very dangerous trend, introducing religious bigotry and extremism to young minds in school. In imposing this ridiculous rule, the school authorities are teaching and reinforcing the supremacist attitude of the bigots and emphasising the differences between the races instead of fostering acceptance and unity among the students. Parents expect that their children will be encouraged in school to interact with those of different races and religions and respect each other’s differences instead of being exposed to ugly discriminatory practices.
The government claims it is trying to unite Malaysians. It has been trying for years to make a success of the expensive 1Malaysia campaign. The Prime Minister in his Christmas message last year hailed the collective unity of this country and the spirit of harmony, acceptance and respect of Malaysians. This baju kurung incident makes a mockery of the PM’s words, showing yet again that the government leaders are full of hollow talk. Besides letting our educational system slide abysmally and failing to provide adequate facilities for the schools, the Ministry of Education has completely lost control over the administration of schools in this country if this dress code has been allowed to be practised in SMK Seri Mutiara. How many more schools have adopted this disgraceful discriminatory policy?
The wearing of the baju kurung was encouraged for many years as a way of integrating and uniting the races. If fact, Malaysians of different races have taken to wearing the kurung on Fridays as the national dress. What message was the school trying to send to the students of that school? We must study in Bahasa Malaysia because it is the national language but we cannot wear the baju kurung because we are not Malays? I feel so much sadness for the students of today if this is the sort of education they are receiving. By the time they leave school, their mindset will be programmed in a way that suits those who seek to rule by division, the ‘us’ against ‘them’ attitude. Could it be that we have the BTN programme of the PM’s department to thank for the appalling attitude of the teacher concerned?
On a personal note, I am bitterly disappointed that a Sarawakian native girl, a Lun Bawang, had to be sent to West Malaysia for schooling by her parents because of the lesser quality of educational facilities in her hometown. I am outraged that she has been subject to such ugly and unnecessary racism by those who were entrusted with her education. This is betrayal upon betrayal for the people of Sarawak. All rational Malaysians must condemn the racist policy of SMK Seri Mutiara. We demand that the teacher concerned be reprimanded by the Ministry. The school authorities must apologise for subjecting Britney Nicole to such humiliation and trauma.
In ending, I am left to wonder whether I should be a little more magnanimous, for someone did say "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." But I think perhaps not.
ADUN N70 BA’ KELALAN
CHAIRMAN, PKR SARAWAK