Leaders upset over purported student harassment by teachers

PETALING JAYA- Allegations of student harassment by teachers at SK Seri Pristana of Sungai Buloh, Selangor, must be thoroughly investigated, said Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan.

"Such reports, if any, must be investigated to unearth the truth," he said when contacted.

The school made headlines when a parent shared photographs of non-Muslim children eating in a changing room that was used as a makeshift canteen during Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month.

Since then, three non-Muslim students have already been transferred out of the school by their parents.

According to a group of parents, more students are expected to be moved out from the school unless the Government takes a firm stand against the alleged harassment of these children.

MCA has also hit out at the school for the alleged maltreatment of students.

"Educationists should serve as mentors and caring protectors of children instead of scaring them away from school and education," said MCA publicity chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie.

MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong criticised the headmaster for allowing police to question its students.

"It is very unbecoming to allow students to be questioned by police in what is not even a criminal case," he said.

Dr Wee added that although police should do their job when they receive complaints, there was no point in harping on the issue.

"The long term repercussions should be taken into account.

"If a harmonious environment is not created, it will be difficult for non-Malays to send their children to national schools and this will defeat the Government's purpose," said the former deputy education minister.

Meanwhile, the police are urging the public not to link the arrest of a parent of a student at the school with the controversy over the makeshift canteen.

According to Sungai Buloh OCPD Supt Junaidi Bujang, these were two separate matters that are being investigated separately.

"Police investigated the canteen issue as 19 reports were lodged by members of the public, while four more reports were lodged by school staff," said Supt Junaidi at a press conference at the Sungai Buloh district police headquarters yesterday.

He said the arrest of V. Kumancan, 32, was a result of a report lodged by the headmaster after he allegedly uttered threatening words at the school's office.

On the questioning of students at the school, Supt Junaidi clarified that police officers interviewed some students as part of investigations, but did not "interrogate" them as claimed by some.

Though parents were not present, he added that his officers did not intimidate the students.

"We were given permission by the headmaster to interview students and we were given 30 minutes.

"We spoke to more than six students in a classroom with other students present, including those who were photographed eating in the room," he added.