DAP welcomes prompt response by new Education Minister, Hishammuddin to the disturbing rise of school gangsterism, violence and crime - a legacy of the failures of Musa Mohamad as Education Minister in the past five years
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): DAP welcomes the prompt response by the new Education Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein to set up a task force at the ministry level to monitor and overcome discipline problems in schools and the installation of a hotline at his office to receive reports or complaints about gangsterism in schools.
This follows the latest ghastly case of violence and crime in schools, causing the death of top student Mohd Farid Ibrahim, 16, Fourth Former at the Sekolah Menengah Agama Dato' Kelana Petra Maamor, Seremban after being assaulted by a group of seniors from the school.
There are however grounds for dissent and reservations about the adequacy of such measures to address the disturbing rise of school gangsterism, violence and crime which is a legacy of the failures of Tan Sri Musa Mohamad as Education Minister in the past five years.
In the past few years, there has been a sharp drop in the country’s Public Safety Index with the unchecked double rise in crime rate and the fear of crime, where Malaysians have lost the most fundamental human right – the right to life and security – and ceased to feel safe for themselves and their loved ones when out in the streets, public places or even in the privacy of their homes.
The serious and deteriorating national condition because of the double rise in crime rate and fear of crime is best exemplified by the crime in Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya yesterday where a group of youths armed with parangs robbed a neighbour of the Inspector-General of Police, Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Omar – another Datuk - of his luxury car at a double storey bungalow,
In the crime, four youths rushed into the victim's house when the Datuk, who works with an auditing firm, returned home for lunch to send his children to school. The robbers bound the Datuk and his maid before ransacking the house. Apparently not happy with what they found in the house, they assaulted the victim before forcing him to surrender the keys to his two cars, a Mercedes Benz and a Proton Satria GTI.
When a neighbour of the Inspector-General of Police is also not safe from crime, who is safe from crime in Malaysia?
It is most shocking that the authorities have not only failed to create a crime-free environment for the townships and communities in the country, schools and educational institutions have ceased to be crime-free with frequent cases of gangsterism, violence and crime – something virtually unheard-of in the early decades of the nation’s Independence.
The rise in gangsterism, crime and violence in schools marks a serious breakdown of school discipline and the students’ social and moral values as well as the shocking failure of the national education system.
Utusan Malaysia today reported that according to its record, there had been more than 35 cases of school crime and violence involving student injuries and deaths in the past five years since 1999. This figure can only be on the low or conservative side.
It is most shocking that the former Education Minister, Musa Mohamad had allowed such a grave breakdown of school discipline and student social and moral values to take place without sharing the problem with MPs in Parliament or taking urgent remedial action – or Farid Ibrahim may still be alive today!
The Education Ministry and the school authorities cannot be allowed to pass the buck for the rising school gangsterism, violence and crime to the police, as it must also be regarded as a major failure of the school principal and teachers involved in maintaining a high standard of student discipline and a crime-free educational environment.
Schools with record of student gangsterism, violence and crime should be publicized in a national black list which should be revised from time-to-time, with the principal and teachers bearing the ignominy and stigma for their failure to ensure the minimum expected of them in having a crime-free environment for students.
The first step Hishammuddin should take is to make public a full list of the incidents of school gangsterism, violence and crime in the past 10 years and to seek the co-operation of parents, teachers’ unions and all political parties, whether ruling or opposition, to restore the crime-free environment for all schools and educational institutions.
If Hishammuddin is not prepared to voluntarily make public such information, DAP MPs will ask questions for such information in the first meeting of the new Parliament. DAP is prepared to fully co-operate with Hishammuddin to make our schools and educational institutions safe again for students to pursue their educational studies and academic excellence free from gangsterism, violence and crime.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor