Thursday, August 19, 2010


Thursday, 19 August 2010.

Apart from our parents, it is our teachers who help lay the first foundations in life so as to guide and improve ourselves, for whatever it is we aspire to be.

On 12 August, Hajah Siti Inshah Mansor, the principal of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra in Kulai, allegedly described her students as penumpang (passengers), told her Chinese students to return to China and compared her Indian students with dogs.

Her remarks are unacceptable and a disgrace to her profession – the teaching profession.

She should have done the right thing and tendered her resignation. But only after making a public apology and after writing a letter of apology to each of the students in the school.

So what is a letter to each of the 2,200 students? She has done much harm to young, vulnerable and impressionable minds. At the same time, a noble profession has been besmirched, and a nation’s fragile truce between the races, is threatened.

If she will not go willingly, then she ought to be sacked. I have worked in companies where racism is not tolerated and the punishment is instant dismissal.

The head teacher’s insensitive, racist and daft comments uttered at the school assembly, is an insult to the Merdeka day celebrations.

Does this woman know the significance of Merdeka? Is she too young to have studied history at school or too young to know about the struggle to achieve Merdeka? Is she a perfect example of our much maligned BTN system?

I come from a family of teachers. My paternal grandfather was a headmaster, a father-in-law was a teacher as was my aunt and mother who trained at the Malayan Teachers' Training College at Kirkby.

Can anyone imagine the uproar and diplomatic scandal if the English teachers were to tell the Malayan teacher trainees that they looked stupid in their rags (sarongs) and to go back to the colonies where they came from, and to where they live in the trees, like monkeys?

You only have to sit with my grandfather to know of the challenges he faced in Malaya, when schools, were a rarity. We have progressed far from those attap-school days.

As for my mother and her sister, the children they once taught in primary and secondary school, would keep in constant touch, decades later What is striking is how her Chinese ex-students would frequent our Raya open house yearly. There was nothing unnatural or affected by the gathering.

That is why it is wrong for this principal to remain in her profession. She is undermining the good work of the other teachers, including her religious and community leaders.

Prime Minister Najib may have championed his 1Malaysia message, but it is obvious that either his message is not filtering down to the population or that the extremist groups are more effective in creating disharmony.

Wasn’t it a few days ago that DPM Muhyiddin Yassin warned the MCA to “be sensitive to the needs of other races in the country”? However, he forgot to inform his own people – the Malays - to do the same. Didn't he say, “In Barisan, we always take a similar stand on issues affecting all races.”?

Perhaps, Malays do not listen to their leaders any more. Maybe the extremists have successfully turned insecure Malays like this school-principal into arrogant creatures.

It would be interesting to know if any of the teachers made a police report. If none of them did, then it just shows how we have been conditioned by peer pressure and office politics, that we have forgotten our basic values.

A few minutes of berating and insulting the non-Malay students will now condemn this principal to a life of ignominy. Rather than being remembered for her guidance and teaching abilities, she will be known for her racist comments and the humiliation of being jeered at, during her attempts to apologise to the school assembly. Teenagers can be merciless when provoked.

Hajah Siti will come to realise the full meaning of ‘insult in haste and repent at leisure’. Her teaching career is in tatters as she will no longer be held in high regard by her students, their parents and her fellow teachers.

Instead of being an inspiration, she has disgraced her noble profession.

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