Malaysia

‘Racist’ principal spurs all-out Facebook war

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 – What started out as a fan page for Johor principal Siti Inshah Mansor has escalated into an all-out verbal war on popular social networking site Facebook.

Since Siti’s alleged racist remarks were reported last week, a fan page in support of the principal was created on Facebook.

Titled “Support Puan Siti, a political victim (Sokong Cikgu Puan Hajah Siti Mangsa Politik), the Facebook page (picture) has now garnered 1,943 fans since its creation last Saturday, August 21.

Many wall postings were in support of Siti, with many “fans” believing that the allegations against her was “racial and ethnic”.

But the backing for the principal has not sat well with some Facebook users who have also started posting wall posts on the support page.

“Before I unlike this page, this is the last thing I’ll say. As a Malay girl who is sick with the racist attitude of her own race and has experienced racism from her own race because I am mixed, I want to advise everyone on this fan page to take the high road.

“Don’t insult and hurt the feelings of other races please. This is the Holy month of Ramadhan, by doing this you are only gathering sins. Remember other races are also creations of Allah,” said a post by Sharina Shahman.

Hours after The Malaysian Insider carried out a story about Siti’s support page yesterday, a Facebook page condemning the alleged remarks of the Johor principal was also created.

Titled “Do not support Puan Siti (Tidak Sokong Cikgu Puan Hajah Siti) the page currently has 454 followers.

The page said: “A school principal in Johor was recently accused of using racist remarks in describing her ethnic Chinese and Indian wards in her school. A Facebook fan page supporting the principal has been created and garnered 1365 fans in 48 hours. This page exists for the sole purpose of gathering people who do not support such forms of racism and to show that racism isn’t right.

“Go and have a look at how bad is racism,” said the information page. The link for Siti’s Facebook page is subsequently provided.

“We in Malaysia are a family, so please do not use racial issues for personal gain ... it does not matter whether we are Indian, Chinese or Malay, we are all the children of Malaysia. I hope that this country only has one race, a Malaysian race like 1 Malaysia,” said Gevakumaran Rajoo in a comment on the page.

Some of the comments posted urged the government to take strong action against the principal, citing dissatisfaction that nothing had been done as of yet and that investigations into Siti’s alleged remarks were taking “too long”.

A number of commentators felt that a public apology did not suffice, with some even demanding that Siti be charged under the Sedition Act or the Internal Security Act (ISA).

However, the administrator of the page had also cautioned followers against posting any racially-provocative remarks.

“Expressing your views is encouraged, but please be civil about it,” said the administrator of the “Do not support Puan Siti” page.

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 was said to have 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.

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