Mohd Afiq Qusyairi case:  Sultan of Pahang commended, Hishammuddin criticized, Karpal offers legal services to National Park ranger Baharuddin Mohamad as his son faces life-long paralysis from the neck down from attacks by his seniors at a religious boarding school in Kuala Lipis

Media Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang

(Parliament, Wednesday): The Sultan of Pahang is to be commended for personally intervening to find out why 13-year-old Mohd Afiq Qusyairi, Form One, was bullied and beaten by his seniors at the boarding school, Sekolah Menengah Agama Padang Tengku in Kuala Lipis. 

Afiq was attacked in April by two Form Five students, who stomped on his back while wearing police cadet boots.  Afiq had kept quiet about the incident, hoping that the bullies would stop tormenting him.  But two weeks later, three seniors threw him against his locker.  The two beatings led to a spinal cord injury at the base of his skull, and doctors fear he may never walk again as a result of lifetime paralysis from the neck down.

Although the Sultan went to Sekolah Menengah Agama Padang Tengku yesterday and personally questioned 14 students and three wardens for more than an hour to find out why the bullying occurred in a religious school, he was disappointed  that he could not get to the root cause of the problems.

The Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who was present yesterday when the Sultan of Pahang interrogated the students and wardens, must accept criticism and responsibility for the latest case of gross breakdown of school discipline and his failure to end school gangsterism.

When he was first appointed Education Minister after the March 2004 general election, he dramatically announced a special task force on school gangsterism when 16-year-old Form Four student Mohd Farid Ibrahim died on March 28, 2004 as a result of assault by seniors at the Sekolah Menengah Agama  Datuk Kelana Pertra Maamor hostel in Seremban.

Expressing his “anger” and declaring “no compromise” against school gangsters and bullies, Hishammuddin had clearly given  a clear and implicit undertaking to parents and the public about the safety and security of their children in schools in Malaysia and  that there would not be another Farid Ibrahim case  as  long as he is Education Minister.

The case of Afiq, the son of National Park ranger Baharuddin Mohamad must be regarded by Hishammuddin as a failure of the special task force he had set up last year after the Farid Ibrahim case to root out the menace of school gangsterism in all schools in the country.

I call on Hishammuddin to present a White Paper to Parliament when it reconvenes on Monday to explain  what new strategy he has in hand  to break the back of the problem of school gangsterism and  to get on top of the problem of school gangsterism, instead of being quite helpless and lost as to how to tackle  it.

During the Pahang  Sultan’s interrogation of the students in Kuala Lipis yesterday, the head boy Mohd Al-Jufri Sarwani admitted witnessing the slapping of   Afiq on the night of April 24 “for gambling with three other boys” by the school’s student hostel head Mohd Fikri Abu Mansor, but the “gambling did not involve money and was just for fun”.

What “gambling” is this that “did not involve money and was just for fun”?  Is “card games” being referred do? If so, are playing cards to be banned?

This raises the question whether the S.M. Agama Padang Tengku in Kuala Lipis is s giving proper religious instruction to its students suitably preparing them to be good Muslims as well as good Malaysians or whether it is  churning out little Talibans.

I have spoken to DAP National Chairman and MP for Bukit Glugor, Karpal Singh, and although he is himself recovering from a spinal cord injury operation, he feels so strongly about the case that he is prepared to  offer legal services to National Park ranger Baharuddin Mohamad to ensure justice for his  son, Afiq, who  faces life-long paralysis from the neck down from attacks by his seniors at the  religious boarding school in Kuala Lipis.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman