Skip to main content

HARESH SAYS: It is the authorities who have to change

As published in Malay Mail today



HARESH SAYS
By Haresh Deol

SOME have described them as “lazy” and “set in their ways”. Others say they are a contented lot, happy with their traditional way of life and cannot be changed.

A former school teacher, who taught in a primary school in Gerik, shared her tales of dealing with the community.

“It’s not easy dealing with orang asli children. Most of them are not eager to learn and often skip school. However, the school does not take action as we want to encourage them to stay in school,” she said, requesting anonymity.

“Some of them come to school in slippers, sometimes without uniforms. During examinations, we will coach them to ensure they score the bare minimum.

This is the reality no one speaks about.” The Education Ministry, or at least those administrating schools in the outskirts, know this.

When seven children from SK Pos Tohoi in Gua Musang went missing on Aug 23, the horror tales emerged. Many earlier speculated the children were smuggled across the border, maybe part of a human trafficking syndicate for organ harvesting or child prostitution.

Authorities found a decomposed body of a girl near Sungai Perias, 500m from Pos Tohoi, on Oct 7 and found two girls — Noreen Yaakob, 10, and Mirsudiar Aluj, 11 — alive two days later. The tales
then changed.

Allegations of students being mistreated in school and teachers who were often missing emerged as the authorities scrambled to do damage control. Parents claim they were kept in the dark while the families staying in the highlands of Kampung Simpul, Kampung Gawen and Kampung Penad, some 50km from Pos Tohoi and only accessible on foot or by four-wheel drive, said police had only visited them once since the tragedy. 

It remains unclear if anyone from the school or ministry made an effort to meet them at their villages.

As tough as they are portrayed to be, the villagers cut a sad, dejected look when Malay Mail visited them on Saturday. The world outside sympathises with them momentarily, but will quickly forget they even exist in weeks to come.

The authorities are now going into damage control mode as the incident has precipitated numerous questions — from search and rescue efforts in Kelantan’s dense jungles to the roles played by the warden and teachers at SK Pos Tohoi. 

The Education Ministry, in a statement last Friday, said it would set up a special committee to look into the various aspects involving orang asli students staying in its hostels.

Should the rules be any different from any other Malaysians who stay in hostels?

The ministry will also organise training sessions in stages on the orang asli culture and way of life for teachers in such schools.  After 58 years of independence, we are still trying to understand a community that had settled here 8,000 years ago.

Our front page picture on Monday, of workers putting up new fencing around SK Pos Tohoi as the earlier fencing had gaping holes, shows the lack of maintenance at the school — just like our porous Malaysia-Thai border. If not for this tragedy, it is highly unlikely the security concerns at the school would be addressed and the old, rusty fencing would have remained.

One wonders how many other schools and hostels nationwide, especially those in the outskirts, have lax security?

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, who is also the Kelantan Umno liaison committee chairman, was spot-on to say investigations should be carried out on why search and rescue efforts took so long without yielding results.

The blame game will continue. The critics will criticise while the defenders will claim they have done their best. The politicians will do what they do best — make plenty of promises.

A friend said if such an incident had happened in the Klang Valley involving children of wealthy families, everyone would be singing a different tune.

The fact remains, seven school children — regardless of their colour or creed — who were staying in a public school hostel went missing more than 50 days ago. Only two were found alive.

The warden and school headmaster must be held accountable but more importantly, this tragedy occurred due to a failed system. Is it fair that we left them in your care only to see them return in boxes?

The sooner we realise this sad fact and rectify it, the better. Perhaps, it is we who are lazy for not wanting to understand those around us.

And it is we who are set in our ways by simply profiling a certain community.

The authorities failed to address numerous issues leading to this tragedy. As such, it is they who have to change.

HARESH is executive editor of Malay Mail. He can be reached at haresh@mmail.com.my or on Twitter @HareshDeol

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What went wrong with KL SEA Games?

145 gold medals.
It's the best Team Malaysia has ever achieved since the inception of the SEAP Games in1959.
The 29th edition of the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur ended yesterday. The opening ceremony dazzled those at the stands and viewers at home while the performances during the closing ceremony yesterday jogged plenty of musical memories to many.
Our athletes, the real superheroes, brought smiles through their heroic display. They made everyday a happy day.
Kudos to the officials - from the coaches, the National Sports Institute and National Sports Council - for their hard work in ensuring our athletes perform to their best.
But it was not all memorable.
From

'World fashion disaster' in KL

World Fashion Week Asia 2017 ended over the weekend.

And the launch on Friday at Palace of the Golden Horses at Mines Resort City just outside Kuala Lumpur turned out to be a forgettable night.

Why?

It was poorly organised.

Just as many are trying to get over the nightmare witnessed throughout the KL SEA Games, the organiser of World Fashion Week Asia 2017 has made it look like Malaysians seem to have lost it when it comes to hosting major events and hospitality.

Here's why.

Royal protocol ignored

1. The Sultanah of Terengganu Sultanah Nur Zahirah was invited to grace the event.
    a. There was no holding room for the Sultanah and VIPs accompanying her.
    b. The Sultanah was invited on stage without anyone accompanying her there (a big NO NO if anyone knows protocol involving royalty).
    c. The event dragged on till 11.30pm, way past the cut off point of the very many events I've attended with members of the royal family present.
   d. The Sultanah was forced to walk all t…

Klang run 'illegal', says Sports Commissioner

UPDATE (Dec 11; 11.58am): Sporting events approved by Sports Commissioner's Office will be posted on the Youth and Sports Ministry's website starting Dec 14, as revealed by the Sports Commissioner in her statement today. I'm glad the last point of my observation (as per posting right below) has been addressed.

---

UPDATE (10.57pm): A Twitter user had sent me a link by the organiser of the Klang Heritage Marathon 2017. It states that the marathon has been "postponed to Oct 14, 2018" and that they have been victims of fake news and will lodge reports with the authorities against materials with elements of defamation or fake news. Read the full statement, posted on Dec 2, here.

---
ORIGINAL POST

A Klang City International Marathon 2017 pacer suffered serious injuries after she and two others were hit by a car

Turns out that the organiser of this morning's event, Earth Runners International Group Sdn Bhd, DID NOT submit any application to the Sports Commissioner&#…