Directive / Advice to wear baju kurung: Call on the Prime Minister to personally intervene

Media Statement
by Kerk Kim Hock

(Melaka, Saturday): DAP Melaka and its leaders have received complaints from parents of the Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Infant Jesus Convent students about the schoolís trial measure requiring all students to wear baju kurung on every Friday.

Parents of the Melaka school, which has an estimated 60 % non-Malay student population, have complained that at the recent orientation session, the school principal Datin Rahimah Ghazali had said that all students would have to wear baju kurung on every Friday.

One unhappy parent said that he was given to understand by his daughter that the trial measure would be incorporated into the school rules in the month of April 2003. In the mean time, all students were expected to follow the principalís advice to wear the baju kurung on all Fridays.

Such measure is tantamount to the hijacking of the national school system revealed by the Prime Minister on 27.12.2002 and I therefore call Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohammad to personally intervene to stop such hijacking and to take the necessary disciplinary action against the principal so as to effectively prevent such hijacking from happening in the future.

In his interview with New Straits Times, the Prime Minister himself had said that the idea to set up the national school was to cater to all races but people who ran the schools had different ideas.

He was quoted as saying that in the past, there were no problems with girls wearing skirts and boys wearing shorts, especially for games but now boys were forbidden from wearing shorts, even for games, and even games were discouraged.

He said that such interpretation of Islam put off the non-Malays.

The measure requiring students to wear baju kurung will certainly put off the non-Malays and such attempt will be seen as a move to make the school into a Malay school and this will definitely put off many students.

After the DAP Tengkera Assemblyman, Sdr Sim Tong Him, had called a Press Conference yesterday to highlight the unjust and unacceptable measure, the principal when approached by the Press, clarified that the measure was only a trial basis and was introduced to strengthen racial unity.

I do not agree the wearing of another raceís attire will help towards improving racial harmony, in fact, such a measure will only result in resentment.

Hence, whether the measure is on a trial basis or otherwise, and irrespective of whether it is a compulsory directive or otherwise, DAP cannot and will not accept such an unnecessary and extreme measure which does not respect the sensitivity and feelings of other communities, it a also a hijacking which will deviate from the original aim as to why national schools are set up.

I will therefore bring this matter to the personal attention of the Prime Minister through a fax message on Monday, 6.1.2003and I hope that the will take the immediate and necessary actions to stop such measure as well as to effectively prevent future similar occurrences.

In the mean time, I urge parents to ignore the principalís ď adviceĒ requiring the students to wear the baju kurung.


* Kerk Kim Hock, DAP Secretary General and MP for Kota Melaka