Directive to wear baju kurung: Have the Education Ministry's students dress code guidelines been " hijacked"?

Media Statement
by Kerk Kim Hock

(Melaka, Tuesday): 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