Hishammuddin should avoid knee-jerk reaction and be more creative and imaginative to address the long-standing and deteriorating problem of school indiscipline and gangsterism by establishing a committee inviting all political parties and relevant organizations and representatives of the civil society to seek solutions for crime-free school environment
Media Conference Statement
- together with DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Bukit Glugor Karpal Singh and Negri Sembilan DAP State Chairman and State Assemblyman for Lobak, Anthony Loke Siew Fook
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): We have with us Ibrahim Maadaah, father of Form IV student, Farid Ibrahim, 16, who was murdered after assaults by seniors at the hostel of SM Agama Datuk Klana Putra Ma’amor in Seremban on 28th March 2004; and Sdr. Karpal Singh, DAP National Deputy Chairman, who will provide pro bono legal representation to Ibrahim.
The new Education Minister, Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein cannot be serious about discipline and gangsterism in schools so long as he evades the issue of holding the school principal and hostel wardens responsible because of their neglect of duties resulting in the murder of Farid
I am shocked by his statement three days ago that he did not want to see finger-pointing and accusing each other over Farid’s death as “nobody should make assumptions by blaming the headmaster or the school authorities before the case was proven beyond doubt”.
I find Hishamuddin’s statement
most puzzling and extraordinary, especially as eight students from the
school were charged in the Magistrate's Court on Friday for the murder of Farid.
Even more surprising, six
students of Sekolah Menengah Agama Datuk Klana Petra Maamor, Ampangan who
were cleared of the charge of killing Farid on March 28, had been expelled
from the school – a decision made by the school's disciplinary committee
chaired by its principal, Johara Norwawi.
If eight students could be charged for Farid’s murder, and six students expelled from the school for planning and abetting their other friends in the murder, why weren’t the school principal, the hostel warden and assistant warden suspended for their neglect of duties resulting in the murder of Farid?
In defence of the school principal and the wardens, Hishammuddin said “the responsibility to tackle indiscipline problems in schools is not solely the task of headmasters and principals or teachers". I agree, but this can be no justification for the failure to take disciplinary action against the school principal and the two hostel wardens for their gross dereliction of duties in failing to provide a “crime-free environment” which would have saved the life of Farid.
Hishammuddin’s knee-jerk reaction to Farid’s death by establishing a task force at the ministry level to monitor and overcome discipline problems in schools is most disappointing, as it is a route of failure which had been taken by the previous Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad to address the problem of school indiscipline and gangsterism.
Hishammuddin is repeating what the Education director-general Datuk Dr. Abdul Shukor Abdullah had said five years ago in 2000 when the education official urged school principals not to sweep anything under the carpet, “as has happened in the past”, if they encountered gang activities in schools.
But Musa’s efforts in the past five years to curb gangsterism and crime involving students was a dismail failure, as the Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Mohamed Bakri Omar has just revealed that last year, there were 5,320 crime cases involving students – such as drug abuse, thievery, robbery, extortion, rape and murder – or a 22.7% increase from the 2,002 figure of 4,200.
Hishammuddin had warned that there will be no place in the country’s schools for school bullies who behaved like gangsters – but their expulsion would only export the problem of school gangsterism to become gangsterism in society at large, without addressing and resolving the problem of a school environment which has become such a fertile ground to breed gangsterism!
As Musa’s task force to fight school indiscipline and gangsterism in the past five years had met with failure, what guarantee is there that Hishammuddin’s task force this time to root out school gangsterism will be a great success?
Hishammuddin should avoid knee-jerk reaction and be more creative and imaginative to address the long-standing and deteriorating problem of school indiscipline and gangsterism by establishing a committee inviting all political parties and relevant organizations and representatives of the civil society to seek solutions to restore a safe and crime-free environment in our schools, colleges and educational institutions for the young generation of Malaysians.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor