Tighten S.O.P. on child protection

We read again of another teacher who has preyed on children sexually. He was known to have abused children in the past and the education department’s action had been to transfer the teacher to another school where he did it again. It appears that the abuse of children in schools is often “covered up”, both in mainstream and tahfiz schools.

We should not treat this like an isolated incident and just “continue the same”. Sexual abuse of children by teachers is not uncommon. I have been approached by teachers concerned about a colleague who may be sexually abusing students. Most times they are reluctant to come forward or give concrete details for fear of action against them by the PPD (district education officer).

I would conservatively say that more than 15-20 such situations are currently known to headmasters, PPDs or religious school authorities, but not adequately acted on. In the past the Education Ministry has revealed 15 such cases over a five-year period.

Most times when it comes to light, the response of the education authorities is to transfer the person and offer monitoring and counselling. It is unlikely that such individuals can change easily and should not be trusted with children. Headmasters, the PPDs and the Education Ministry should not expect the problem to just “go away”. We may be putting more children in harm’s way.

These teachers often appear to be the “nicest”. They offer to do more for children; teachers that offer to take children for outings, extra classes, etc. Parents are led into believing they are good teachers. I recognise that suggesting this will damage the really supportive teachers, but we need to recognise the reality of what is happening (grooming).

Legislation to protect children, including school students, has been in place since 1991. Initially as the Child Protection Act and then as the Child Act. We however seem to fail to use it.

The Child Act clearly states in section 29 the duty of child care providers: “If a child care provider believes on reasonable grounds that a child is physically or emotionally injured as a result of being ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed, or is sexually abused, he shall immediately inform a Social Welfare Officer.”

This should apply to all teachers whether in mainstream, private, international or religious schools. Teachers may want to claim that they are not “child care providers” but the Child Act defines this clearly as “a person who looks after one or more children for valuable consideration for any period of time”.

Section 29 goes on to say that “Any child care provider who fails to comply commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both”.

It is important to ask if the Child Act is actually used to protect children in Malaysia and whether our education authorities, mainstream and religious, are failing children?
We need a supportive system that encourages the protection of children, enables the reporting of suspicious behaviour and clear action when children or staff report abuse. This means not keeping it confined to the education department but involving welfare, health and police.

Finally all education facilities must have mandatory safety rules on working with children in all settings. These include:

» The “two adult rule” – No adult should work with children on a one-on-one basis. It does not matter whether it is male to male or female to female, all work with children must have chaperones. Institute chaperoned contact time with all children in all environments in school or extra-curricular activities.

» “Open door” policy – All counselling and small group activities should have an “open door policy”. This means that there is a “window” in the door or a side window through which others can see what is occurring.

Please let’s be found committed to ensuring the best interests of our children and not be protecting the offenders.

Datuk Dr Amar-Singh
Senior Consultant Paediatrician

Why pick on ride-hailing?

THE newly-minted transport minister has laid down the law that online ride-hailing vehicles must comply with pretty much the same regulations as licensed taxis.

For the time being we shall ignore the fact that they are two different animals and the minister’s call is pretty much the demise of ride-hailing services which are meant to be ad hoc and help to provide alternative income to wage earners.

What irks me is why the authorities even want to make ride-hailing like the taxis when taxi drivers in certain areas are sloppy and arrogant, while their vehicles are not clean and often run by rent-seekers.

Why don’t they demand that taxi drivers improve their act and respond on predetermined terms and on call, like ride-hailing drivers do?

I am all for level playing fields if the products are on par.

The minister cannot be unaware that taxi service disappoints on so many counts.

If he doesn’t know that yet, he should hail a taxi at any mall, starting with KLCC and meet the taxi thugs.

Then tell us if the nation needs two similar services.

Maniam Sankar
Kuala Lumpur

Malanjum’s appointment as CJ a good sign

MOST people in Peninsular Malaysia have not heard of Richard Malanjum, neither have I. Except for the occasional mention, the name of the chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak is hardly known to most West Malaysians. Now, we have a Kadazandusun as chief justice of Malaysia.

His appointment to the highest judicial post in the country is therefore a bout of fresh air in the new Malaysia.

Since the birth of Malaysia in 1963, we have never given the post of chief justice to an East Malaysian. After Pakatan came into power, we have broken a number of records, which include the oldest prime minister in the world, the first woman deputy prime minister, and now the first East Malaysian chief justice.

We also have a highly qualified Indian constitutional expert, Tommy Thomas as the attorney-general. Although Lim Guan Eng, a Monash accounting graduate, is not the first Chinese finance minister, his achievements in turning Penang around cannot be disputed.

The cabinet also comprises both newbies and seasoned politicians, where we are assured of proper succession planning. They are picked based on their seniority in their parties and their expertise. For example, Mujahid Yusof Rawa is minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs while Yeo Bee Yin is minister of energy, science, technology, environment and climate change.

Admittedly the new cabinet did not meet everyone’s expectations, but meritocracy has to be upheld at all times under the flag of Keadilan.

Only then can we have the best people to run the country. If we follow Zakir Naik’s pre-election rationale advising Muslims to vote for a “corrupt Muslim leader” than to have a “non-Muslim kafir”, then we will never stay ahead of other Asean nations.

My take is that if a highly respected man like former Court of Appeal judge, Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof can become Speaker, then I think we will see good reforms in the august house.

For voters like me, to fulfil the promises in the manifesto is important but the right choice of candidate is even more important to safeguard parliamentary democracy.

The new government must keep its promises and give hope to the people of different ethnicity and religious backgrounds that Malaysia is after all a great nation to belong to.

After all, we are all Malaysians. Religious bigotry and racism should no longer be allowed to dominate our political landscape.

Stephen Ng
Kuala Lumpur

UEC no threat to National Language status and national unity

EDUCATION Minister Dr Maszlee Malik recently said: “A holistic approach towards any decision to recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) is needed to ensure that the national language and national unity are not threatened, as to avoid unnecessary U-turns in the decision made.”

Chinese living in the region began to learn their mother-tongue language in private-managed schools as early as 200 years ago, inheriting the traditional Chinese culture with an aim to preserve and retain the roots of the ethnic Chinese in this country. Besides, it is the constitutional right for all ethnic groups in Malaysia to learn and develop their mother-tongue language, with freedom of worship and practice of their own culture.

The curriculum of the Chinese Independent Schools is based on real history and actual conditions of Malaysia, and thus true and factual Malaysian history. Historically, these Chinese Independent Schools are schools that declined to conform to reforms that took place in the 60s and 70s under the then Education Act 1961. And yet, since then, these Chinese Independent School managed to nurture numerous professionals in various fields and play their key roles in building our nation. Their contributions are real and great.

As the rakyat, we fully understand and appreciate the government’s efforts to help and support bumiputras through different approaches and various policies. However, the status of the underprivileged is never a “special gift” from the heaven to any particular ethnic group but all, irrespective of which ethnic groups they belong. It just helps the weak ones to become stronger, to be able to stand on their own feet and thus bring lasting happiness to our beloved nation.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s recognition of the UEC will neither jeopardise the supreme status of our national language nor hinder national unity and harmony. In actual fact, it is the Chinese community itself that bear all the development and maintenance costs for the Chinese Independent Schools, and thus greatly and effectively reduce the financial burden of the Education Ministry.

We, the Malaysia Chinese-Educated Students’ Association, has all along maintained and stressed the importance of our national language by encouraging students of these schools to learn and master national language. The participation of the officials from Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) in the annually Bahasa Malaysia Speaking Forum proved that Chinese Independent Schools are not against Bahasa Malaysia as the official National Language of our country.

The Chinese community has all along maintained and upheld the status of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language under the Federal Constitution by encouraging students in Chinese Independent Schools to learn and master Bahasa Malaysia. As such, there is no way that the supreme status of Bahasa Malaysia as our national language will be jeopardised if UEC is recognised by the newly-elected PH Government. Accordingly, the worry that the recognition of UEC will threaten the status of Bahasa Malaysia and hinder national harmony and unity is totally baseless and is merely a false alarm.

In fact, graduates from the Chinese Independent Schools are assemblymen and members of Parliament. They are well versed in Bahasa Malaysia and carry out their job professionally. The recognition of UEC should be based on the quality and standard of the Chinese Independent School Education System and not otherwise.

In short, Chinese Independent Schools have not in any way harmed national unity and harmony. Graduates from these schools have contributed greatly to nation building and the UEC has earned recognition worldwide.

In conclusion, we would like to stress that there is no need to amend its curriculum to earn government’s recognition. The curriculum is tailor-made in accordance with Malaysian history and education system.

Tan Boon Tak
Malaysia Chinese-Educated Students’ Association

Get to the root cause of illegal workers

AT the start of this month the operation to flush out illegal workers in all industries and businesses will soon find quite a number of employers getting caught and charged besides the huge number of illegal workers being placed in detention centres.

The law is quite merciless when dealing with employers as they may be fined heavily/jailed/even whipped and their business accounts frozen.

To many logical thinking citizens there are a few important questions they want to ask:

a) Why are these employers carrying out lawful businesses be punished worse than criminals who steal or rob or those laundering money as shown by the laws for those employing illegal workers?
b) Why are they not employing legal workers when they have invested thousands or even millions of ringgit in a business they hope to grow and expand? Surely they cannot rely on these illegals to help the business grow as proper workers are needed as they are an important factor of production (in economic terminology.)
c) Does not the heavy fine/imprisonment and punishment show it is not justified taking such risks of getting illegal workers?

So why are they still doing it? The authorities must therefore go into the root cause.

They also announced that flushing out illegals are a must as it is a security issue. But why are there so many of them and why is it that the authorities do not know how many are in the country and why so many amnesties have failed to achieve the desired result of reducing the numbers. Perhaps these few points may provide some answers.

The reason for so many foreign workers (legal and illegal) is because most industries and businesses do not get the right people for the job and is not a pay issue. It is a question of grit/commitment and a need to work, and these days many people don’t really feel the need to work unless it is a job of their choice.

The presence of illegals starts when the procedures for recruitment of legal workers are flaunted with red tape/corruption and the failure to understand the needs of the industry or business, giving rise to the desperate decision by employers to employ foreign workers to ensure running of the business can continue else the operation comes to a halt and lots of money invested is lost.

The amnesty process that is carried out seems to burden and concern employers, whether the illegal workers they notify with the authorities will be legalised or not. If not the workers will be sent home at the employers cost despite them being legalised in the short-term as the permit has no financial benefit to the employers.

Employers, especially small time businessmen, are at a loss in decision-making process dished out for employers to recruit workers.

Given this reality, an attempt to put an end to the existence of illegal workers will create a big gap in the recruitment time frame; from ongoing business operations to the time of getting sufficient new legal workers to work. How long will it take for a new worker to be recruited and be put back to work after the employer loses an illegal worker?

Businesses will be destroyed and financial ruin will befall many.

To carry out massive changes in any thing we have to look at the method and note the consequences arising therefrom.

Likewise without understanding why there is such a massive shortage of workers in all sectors and why there are so many illegal workers in the country an operation to flush them all out will cause a collapse of many industries and businesses. It is best to start off from ground zero.

For an amnesty to be given it should not be given to the employer having illegal workers but to the illegal workers to allow the employer to employ the workers they want and the number they require. Then each worker is given a three-year work permit when the particulars are submitted to the authorities for registration.

In doing this the authorities have a record of all the workers in all the industries and businesses. And it is the responsibility of the employer to provide all details of the worker to the immigration/labour office and to ensure that documentation is proper with valid passport and medical reports of health clearance. The permit given by the authorities is only conditional unless the worker is found to have a criminal record or health problem or changes job without permission.

Everything should be done and verified within six months upon issuance of the visa/work permit. This voluntary submission will provide a record to the authorities of the actual work force and requirements in all sectors allowing them determine the manpower need.

This will be a great step forward in doing away with middleman and helping to reduce red tape and avoid corruption. With a true picture of the labour situation, the government can then plan to increase the skilled work force by building more technical/vocational and agricultural colleges to encourage the young ones to move away from white collar jobs, which many find unsuitable.

Only when this new attitude is cultivated and the love of blue collar jobs is nurtured will we then have to rely on foreign workers. And with transparent procedures being implemented the need for illegal workers will be a thing of the past as employers will gladly submit documentation to the authorities for them to approve based on the needs shown and not the amount of money passed under the table.

C K Lee
Kuala Lumpur

‘Fixed price’ needed for domestic rice consumption

I REFER to a recent news article published on “Bernas: Opening up imports would not mean cheaper rice”.

In early June, the government decided to end Bernas’ monopoly of rice imports and established a committee to explore alternative options to tackle our staple food.

I am unable to fathom nor understand this move that was said to be undertaken as a means to provide cheaper pricing for rice.

A removal of the sole importer status and subsidy to Bernas, one would expect that the revenue of the government will be increased further. Will the government then utilise this savings to subsidise the price of rice for the end consumer? If so, in what manner?

If Bernas’ role is to be removed, how will this also help protect an estimated 150,000 farmers in the nation from problems on stockpile issues, subsidy disbursements and miller’s funding in which the company is obligated to serve?

How would the removal of Bernas from the role of a sole importer be able to address the rising supply and control the price of rice? Wouldn’t appointing more companies to oversee rice imports result in more foreign rice being imported into the country?

What would stop these companies then from forming a cartel?

In any country, government policies are mainly focused on poverty elimination and sectoral growth. As the poverty among padi farmers is high in Malaysia, the government should regard this as an important and sensitive issue to protect the domestic industry and for food security purposes.

The government has to be commended for introducing a set petrol price, eliminating the weekly stress and anticipation of the different price back then. I call for the government to consider the same on the move to remove the single rice importer role as to control any uncertainty and unrest among the rice farmers and the everyday Malaysian people.

As someone who consumes rice daily, I for one believe that a monopoly rice importer is needed to maintain and manage the national stockpile of rice to ensure sufficient supply and to stabilise the price. We should have a “fixed price” for domestic rice consumption.

E. K. Ong
Shah Alam

Double standards in rule of law

WE all know that Jamal flouted the laws of our country and fled to Indonesia. He did not in anyway disturb the peace of Indonesia; nor did he go against the laws there either. Yet, the Indonesian government was blind to colour, race, creed and religion. It was sensitive only to the rule of law and extradited Jamal back to Malaysia swiftly. Salute to Indonesian rule of law.

Now, we are also begging the International Communities to extradite Jho Low, back to Malaysia.

But Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Cabinet refuses to extradite Zakir Naik to India based on their own interpretation of rule of law and brought disgrace to Malaysia. I wonder if Malaysians have wronged in GE14.

P. G. K. Naicker