Monday, August 23, 2010

More Racist Investigation Committees Required?

Tan Sri Muhyiddin has set a ridiculous precedent of setting up a high-level taskforce to investigate allegations of racist remarks by a school principal and he will now have no choice but to set up a committee to investigate every such remarks.

The Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has belatedly announced the set up of a taskforce specifically to investigate the allegations regarding highly racist remarks made by the principal of SMK SMK Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Siti Inshah Mansor, after remaining silent for 1 whole week since the incident.

The setting up of the investigation taskforce is clearly an afterthought by the Minister after the attempt by the ministry's Director-General Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom to waive away the issue by claiming that the issue has been “resolved” as it was due to a “misunderstanding” backfired when the public voiced their outrage at the cover up by the Ministry of Education.

Unfortunately, the public does not have any confidence at all that the taskforce will be able to produce a satisfactory outcome as the Minister himself has set the tone for the taskforce.

1.Despite this being a simple issue of determining if such words were spoken, especially with tens of witnesses as reflected by the police reports filed against Siti Inshah, Tan Sri Muhyiddin chose to “complicate” matters by emphasising on a “full and thorough investigation which my cross several agencies”. While it is certainly fair for the principal to receive a “full and thorough investigation”, the emphasis by the Minister that it'll involve several agencies is a clear attempt to unnecessarily prolong the investigation despite the obvious fact that Siti Inshah has apologised to the students for the offence.

2.Unlike his Deputy Minister, Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, who had at the very least tweeted publicly that it was “not appropriate for principal to pass those remarks, shd be sensitive living in a multiracial society”, Tan Sri Muhyiddin has still refused to condemn such remarks, if truly uttered.

The question is, why is he, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, so reluctant to condemn such remarks and warn others in the Education Ministry from ever doing the same or face the harshest of consequences? His action, or in this case, inaction, has further damaged the “1Malaysia” concept proposed by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak to promote national unity.

3.What is perhaps most telling in Tan Sri Muhyiddin's setting up of this investigation taskforce is fact that there was no deadline set for the taskforce to present its findings and recommendations when a week would have been more than sufficient time to investigate and determine the outcome.

The above shows that the Deputy Prime Minister is not serious about getting to the bottom of this issue quickly and in such a way to demonstrate that the Ministry of Education will not tolerate any such serious offences by anyone under its payroll. The setting up of the taskforce is just meant to temporarily placate the furious parents and upset Malaysians while the Ministry buys time for itself to “resolve” the issue the second time.

However, the precedent of setting up such a taskforce of teachers or headmasters uttering racist remarks may just create a tidal wave of such taskforce for now there is a new case of a principal and teacher committing the same offence in a school in Sg Petani, Kedah. Will the Education Minister announce another taskforce to investigate these claims? Will more taskforces be set up as more such offences gets reported?

We call upon the Tan Sri Muhyiddin to stop pussyfooting over the issue and demonstrate his commitment to “1Malaysia” by condemning outright such remarks and giving a warning to all teachers and principals that those found guilty of doing so will be punished most severely including being sacked from the profession. If Tan Sri Muhyiddin still refuses to take quick action on the above, then it is imperative for the Prime Minister himself to take all necessary steps to hold together his fragile “1Malaysia” brainchild, if the concept still means anything to him.
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