DAP express disappointment at the nervous haste of Deputy Education Minister II P Kamalanathan in closing the controversy of Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Pristana

DAP express disappointment at the nervous haste of Deputy Education Minister II P Kamalanathan in quickly closing the controversy of requiring non-Muslim students to use the shower room as a makeshift canteen in Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Pristana in Sungai Buloh during the fasting month of Ramadan without giving a full public explanation. The parents of 1,300 students in the school, including the 28 non-Muslim students, want an answer to the inconsistencies and self-contradictions in facts and events, and all Malaysians want the truth and nothing but the truth to be revealed before they are convinced by Kamalanathan’s claims that this is not an issue related to race or religion.

Such nervous hastiness in closing the controversy will be seen as a cover-up unless Kamalanathan can explain why the parents were not informed since March this year that the canteen will be relocated to the shower room because of renovations. Further why were there no signs of renovation of the canteen? If the renovation has been only recently completed, why was the canteen not reopened? Lastly how can Kamalanathan fail to address the parents’ complaints that their children were only asked to eat in the makeshift canteen in the shower room two days into Ramadan?

Kamalanathan said that he was only solving the problem by relocating the canteen out of the shower room. Solving the problem is one thing but punishing the one responsible is equally important to ensure that such incidents do not recur. The public needs to know how such an incident could have happened in the first place because it is humiliating for children to eat in a shower room that is converted into a makeshift canteen.

A strong message must be sent that civil servants must respect the sensitivities and rights of all communities. Failure to do so will only accelerate the negative perception that the sensitivities and rights of non-Muslims can be trampled upon without punishment. Such negative perception can easily turn to a feeling of victimisation by non-Muslims. The failure of the BN Federal government to punish unapologetic Perkasa leaders for its racist and extremist calls to burn the Bible and make anti-Hindu insults, when the young Alvivi couple was rightfully charged in court for being disrespectful to Islam even though they had apologised, clearly does not help to refute allegations of double-standards.

DAP is saddened by the pictures of policemen with heavy weapons standing guard outside a school in Sungai Buloh, holding back angry parents and their friends. Does Malaysian schools have to deteriorate to this level where policemen with weapons are required to stand guard outside schools not to protect the school against criminals but against angry parents seeking answers and justice?

Lim Guan Eng DAP Secretary General & MP for Bagan