Nazri pushes zero tolerance against racist principals

By Clara Chooi, The Malaysian Insider

“Minority? That is not the point. I don’t care about that. It’s not about whether it is a minority — not even one person in the education service should be a racist.

“There should be zero tolerance for this,” said Nazri today.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz stepped up today to fill the palpable silence of his Cabinet colleagues over the racial uproar caused by two school principals, saying that the government should take severe action and show “zero tolerance” for such “racist educators”.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department skewered the opinion of Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein who had said the two school principals were merely a minority, by pointing out that there should be a “zero” number of racists in the education service.

“I agree with the public on this… it is frightening to see our educators behaving like that. Severe action must be taken – we cannot, in any way, tolerate this,” he told The Malaysian Insider today.

The issue exploded recently when the SMK Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra school principal in Johor allegedly said during a school assembly that the Chinese were not needed in the country and could go back to China.

She was also alleged to have likened the Indians to “dogs” for wearing their prayer strings which were similar to dog leashes.

Although her statement had caused an uproar, Education director-general Tan Sri Alimudin Dom claimed that the incident was a mere misunderstanding and had been resolved. The school principal was not reprimanded for her actions.

On the very day that Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin finally broke the government’s silence by ordering a probe into the issue, yet another school head in Kedah was accused of uttering similar derogatory remarks.

The SMK Bukit Selambau headmistress was said to have accused the Chinese pupils of being insensitive to the Muslims for eating in the school compound during the Ramadan month and ordered them to return to China if they could not respect the cultures of other races.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has remained elegantly silent on both incidents, sparking insult from the opposition that he was as meek as his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and was “afraid” to upset his own Umno men.

Hishammuddin, in the meantime, brushed off the matter by saying that the two principals were merely a “minority” and did not represent the majority of the country’s school teachers.

“Minority? That is not the point. I don’t care about that. It’s not about whether it is a minority — not even one person in the education service should be a racist.

“There should be zero tolerance for this,” said Nazri today.

He said he was “shocked” by the two incidents and was of the opinion that it did not matter if the two teachers were Malays or Muslims.

“Who cares about their skin colour? So what if they are Malays? So, we protect them then? No way. It is what they said that should be our concern. When they cross the line, severe action must be taken,” he suggested.

Nazri however admitted that the matter was not under his jurisdiction and would not say if he meant that he wanted both principals to be sacked from the service entirely.

“I do not want to interfere but to my personal opinion, this is unforgiveable. That is why I say – severe action, whatever it is, must be taken. We cannot have these kinds of people in our community.

“If it had been my teacher, I would have smacked his face. You are a teacher and you are supposed to be teaching us right things but yet, you talk like this,” he said.

Nazri noted that the government’s failure to respond quickly and appropriately on the matter would only encourage more acts of racism by others.

“Yes, of coure they would be encouraged. That is why I said I want zero racists in the teaching service. No teacher, not a minority but not even one person, should be behaving like this.

“And it is not about the skin colour… if anyone, whether Malay, Chinese or Indian, behave like this, it is still wrong,” he said.

Nazri would not comment on the Prime Minister’s silence on the matter.