Directive to wear baju kurung: Have the
Education Ministry's students dress code guidelines been " hijacked"?
by Kerk Kim Hock
When commenting on the trial measure by Sekolah Menengah Infant Jesus Covent
requiring all its students to wear baju kurung on every Friday, the Minister
of Education, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad was reported to have said that the
measure was only a suggestion and that as along as the Ministry's school
attire guidelines were followed, it was okay.
I wish to first of all express my regret that given the strong parental
objections over the trial measure, Tan Sri Musa does not seem to take the
issue seriously by doing what he should do ---to immediately direct the
school principal Datin Rahimah Ghazali to withdraw it.
What is most shocking is his comments that as long as the measure does not
violate he Ministry's guidelines, it can be accepted.
Does it mean that the Ministry's guidelines allow the introduction of such
measure? If not, why has the Education Ministry turned a blind eye to the
allegations that such measure ahs been implemented in a Muar Convent school
and other teacher training colleges?
If the guidelines allow school principals such flexibility, is it a result
of the guidelines having been hijacked?
As the Prime Minister has correctly and clearly said that he national
schools are set up to cater for all races and that hijackings have caused
the schools to deviate from the original objective, I wish to again call on
the Prime Minister to personally intervene to ensure the stoppage of such
hijacking in the form of a attire directive.
The school principal's clarification, through a Press Conference organized
by the MCA, that the measure is not a compulsory move is not satisfactory
and acceptable. DAP will continue to oppose the measure, whether it is a
compulsory one or a measure where students have a right to freely decide
because this is a measure that does not respect the sensitivity of other
races and it is tantamount to hijacking the national education system.
It is true that 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.
* Kerk Kim Hock,
DAP Secretary General and MP for Kota Melaka