I cannot act against racist principals, says DPM

By Clara Chooi, The Malaysian Insider

SERI KEMBANGAN, Sept 23 — Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin claimed today he had no power to take action against the two school principals who allegedly uttered racial slurs, despite his position as the country’s Education Minister.

He explained to reporters here today that this was because disciplinary matters involving high-ranking civil servants comes under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Department (PSD).

“The minister cannot make a decision (on this). So cases that involve certain matters, including these principals who have high (pay) grades… If I am not wrong, their grades are between 48 and 52, so this has to be decided on by a disciplinary board under the (purview of the) PSD’s director-general,” he told reporters after opening the 10th regional seminar on the Criminalisation of Bribery at the Palace of the Golden Horses hotel here this afternoon.

Muhyiddin pointed out that the ministry, on its part, had already done its own research on the cases and had handed over its report to the PSD for further action.

“I have asked the PSD to mete out appropriate action. It is under their jurisdiction (to do so),” he said.

He added that he had already made the announcement and urged the people to wait for the PSD to make its decision.

Earlier this month, PSD director-general Datuk Seri Abu Bakar Abdullah told a press conference in Putrajaya that the department had already received a “six-inch thick” report from the Education Ministry on the matter.

“If there is a case against the principal, then the disciplinary committee will deliberate. A show-cause letter will be issued to the principal and she will be given the opportunity to defend herself,” he had reportedly said.

Siti Inshah Mansor, the principal of SMK Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, had allegedly told students during an assembly that the Chinese could return the China and that the Indians resembled “dogs” with their prayer strings.

“Pelajar-pelajar Cina tidak diperlukan dan boleh balik ke China ataupun Sekolah Foon Yew. Bagi pelajar India, tali sembahyang yang diikat di pergelangan tangan dan leher pelajar nampak seakan anjing dan hanya anjing akan mengikat seperti itu,” she had allegedly said last month.

Following the public uproar over her controversial statement, about 20 reports were lodged against the principal.

In the Kedah case, Ungku Aznan Ungku Ismail, the school principal for SMK Bukit Selambau in Sungai Petani, caused a national outcry when he too allegedly uttered racial slurs to his non-Malay students.

Ungku Aznan had allegedly publicly told a few Chinese students to go back to China for they were behaving disrespectfully when they were seen having breakfast in the school canteen during the Ramadan fasting month.

He later escaped stern punishment when he was merely reassigned to an office in the district education office at Kuala Muda in Sungai Petani, shortly after the incident, drawing flak from many political leaders, including those from MCA.

The government has come under fire for failing to act quickly on the matter, despite their swift action in the case of controversial rapper Wee Meng Chee or “Namewee”, who had produced a video in response to the incident involving the principals.