Malaysia

On Facebook, ‘racist’ principal finds support in numbers

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
August 24, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 – Principal Siti Inshah Mansor may have sparked national outrage due to her alleged racist comments, but many online feel she’s merely a “political victim”.

Since the news broke last week, lawmakers from both sides of the political divide have demanded an investigation and action if she’s guilty of the allegations.

However, a random check by The Malaysian Insider yesterday on popular social networking site Facebook led to a fan page for the Johor school principal.

Titled “Support Puan Siti, a political victim” (Sokong Cikgu Puan Hajah Siti Mangsa Politik), the Facebook page has already garnered 1,365 fans despite being two days old — it was created last Saturday (August 21).

“We support Puan Siti who is a victim of racist political practices within the country... this is a battle of the Malays to defend our Malay rights in this Malay land,” reads the information page of Siti’s Facebook fan page.

Many wall postings were in support of the principal, with many believing that the allegations were unfounded and that Siti’s ostracisation was “racial and ethnic”.

“Teachers contribute a lot to society. Educators are priceless in giving birth to bright and successful individuals. Where is the sin in a teacher telling the truth to her students even though the truth may be painful to swallow? Answer with facts, where is the crime in that?” said a posting by the administrator of the Facebook page.

The unnamed administrator went on to claim that accusations saying that Siti had told “Chinese and Indian visitors to go back to their own country, Indians wear prayer strings like dogs” were mere fabrications.

“Let us all give our feedback, let us light the flames of our Malay race. Let us all unite. Malaysia, the name itself originates from the word Malay, the country therefore belongs to us. These visitors don’t know their place, we have given them everything yet they challenge our rights. Let us rise!” wrote Mohd Razif.

Another commenter Muhammad Taqiyuddin Ahmad said he did not believe a principal would make such remarks.

“As long as the federal constitution in this country is respected we have to accept whatever that comes with it. Didn’t our forefathers agree together on it?” wrote Mohd Shahid Adnan.

A number of other commentators said that history lessons ought to be made compulsory in all schools in the country so that the “other races” can be taught the “origins of the country” as well as the rights of Malays.

Last week, the Johor school principal sparked national outrage when her allegedly racist remarks were reported, following a failed initial attempt by the Education Ministry to placate parents.

The SMK Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra principal had reportedly made the derogatory remarks during the launch of the school’s Merdeka celebrations.

“Chinese students are not needed here and can return to China or Foon Yew schools. For the Indian students, the prayer string tied around their neck and wrist makes them look like dogs because only dogs are tied like that,” Siti Inshah was quoted as saying in at least one police report.

The police are currently investigating the case under Section 504 of the Penal Code for provocation, which carries a maximum imprisonment of two years, a fine, or both.

A total of 20 complaints have been lodged with the authorities.

On Friday, Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin also directed Education director-general Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom to set up a committee to investigate the matter.

Alimuddin had earlier said it was a misunderstanding that had already been resolved.

However, on the same day, another principal, this time from Sungai Petani, Kedah was similarly accused of racism for allegedly telling her Chinese pupils to “return to China”.

The Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Bukit Selambau head allegedly accused the Chinese pupils of being insensitive towards their Muslim peers by eating in the school compound during the fasting month of Ramadan last Friday, and ordered them to return to China if they could not respect the culture of other races.