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Media Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP MP for Ipoh Timur Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Thursday, 17th January 2008:

The principal of SMK BUD4 should be removed unless she is prepared to mend her ways, rescind her insensitive decisions and realize her responsibilities as head of a school in a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia

My blog on the complaint by a parent against the school principal of SMK Bandar Utama 4 Damansara for her lack of understanding and respect for the sensitivities and rights of diverse races, religions, languages and cultures in plural Malaysia has provoked quite a firestorm of response.

There have been over 200 comments in the three threads on the subject since yesterday:

(1) BU4 Damansara – another case of “Napoleon” and school principal insensitivity – 72 comments
(2) Hishammuddin sets worst example for sensitivities in plural Malaysia – 76 comments
(3) More about SMK BUD4 (3) – 58 comments

The complaints of the parent against the school principal, which had been endorsed by many commentators, were her decisions in imposing in a school with 85% Chinese and 10% Muslim students “bacaan doa” during assembly, banning the cheerleading team, no more wearing of shorts for PE and her directive that for CNY, the school can have a lion dance performance but without the drum.

In the comments, there have been more criticisms of the school principal’s insensitive and “Little Napoleonic” ways which are best summed up in the following email from an alma mater of the school:

“I am writing this e-mail to you regarding your latest post on my former school, SMK BUD4. What the parent has written to you is indeed correct. Although I have left BU4 for good but I still do communicate with my friends and teachers of that school. In fact I still do visit it quite frequently.

“After hearing about these issues about the new principal I felt that I should play my part as a former student of this school as well. I have a few additional information I would like to share with you. As Valentine's Day is drawing near, the Scout Troop of SMKBU4 proposed to sell cookies for that occasion to gather some funds for our activities and charity. But to their dismay the Principal rejected the proposal immediately by the reason that she is a Muslim and does not celebrate Valentine's Day. As far as I know, Malaysia is a multiracial country. The government is trying to promote multiracial values but their civil servant is going against that.

“Besides that, our school holds a Talent Night Event for students to show off their capability and talent every year. The new principal has also said that she does not want the event to be held this year. She told a teacher that if we wanted to attend a contest we can go to the US or other Western Countries. After hearing this I felt that this principal has a real narrow mind. I feel sad for her honestly.

“I still remember an incident that happened last year during our school's PIBG's AGM. As the YDP PIBG stood up to present his speech in English, a Muslim parent stood up as well but for another reason. He requested our YDP to speak in Bahasa Melayu as this is Malaysia. I still remember him saying that the British times are over; every Malaysian should know how to speak in BM. The parent and a few others insisted on their stand therefore we had no choice but to ask a teacher to interprete the text to BM. Well my question is this. Did anyone or any rule stats that English is not allowed to be used in Malaysia? Even our government is encouraging the citizens to use english. The Education Ministry introduced Maths and Science in English.”

I am offering this blog to the school principal concerned the space and opportunity to reply to the many valid and legitimate criticisms which have been leveled against her for her lack of sensitivity and failure to set a role model as head of a school in plural Malaysia.

The Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and/or Deputy Education Ministers, Education Ministry big-wigs are also welcome to this blog to clear the air.

Unless the principal could deny or explain satisfactorily in a substantive manner the various criticisms directed at her, she should be removed unless she is prepared to mend her ways, rescind her insensitive decisions and realize her responsibilities as head of a school in a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia.

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


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