Directive to wear baju kurung: Call on the Prime Minister and the Education Minister to carry out a thorough investigation

Media Statement
by Kerk Kim Hock

(Melaka, Monday): Datin Rahimah Ghazali, principal of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Infant Jesus Convent, was quoted in the press three days ago as saying that she saw nothing wrong in imposing the measure requiring students to wear baju kurung on Fridays.

She claimed that the measure was on a trial a basis for 3 months and was done to promote national unity.

She was also reported to have said that such measure was already introduced in the teacher training colleges .She revealed that a secondary convent school in Muar, Johore, had also implemented such a directive.

As such measure is not only ignoring the sensitivity of other communities, it is in fact tantamount to the hijacking of the national school system revealed by the Prime Minister on 27.12.2002.

Hence, I have today faxed a message to the Prime Minister and the Education Minister calling on them to carry out a thorough investigation and to take the necessary disciplinary actions against those responsible for hijacking of the national school system through such directives so as to ensure that such hijacking will not repeat in future.

In his interview with the 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 perceived assimilation move would definitely put off many students.

There are non-Malays who choose to wear baju kurung on various occasions or at their offices, but this is done out of one’s own free will. To make this into a school regulation, whether done as a compulsory measure or otherwise, is totally unacceptable. After all, no one will believe that national unity can be achieved by getting another race to wear the traditional dress of a particular race.

As such, I wish to reiterate that, irrespective of whether the measure 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, but is is also an act of hijacking which will deviate from the original aim as to why national schools are set up.

I also wish to call on the Prime Minister to direct the Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rastam to remove Datuk Haji Long Said as the State Executive Councilor in charge of state education.

Instead of directing the school principal to rescind the unacceptable measure, Long Said was quoted in the News Straits Times as saying that the school must have its own reasons for issuing the directive and that such a directive might not be made compulsory.

Two years ago, Long Said had offended the Chinese community when he said that for the government to provide financial allocation to the Pay Fong Middle School, the only independent Chinese secondary school in Malacca, would be like “ pouring salt into the sea”.

Cleary, he is unqualified and unsuitable to be in charge of the state education and should therefore be removed.


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