Image: Samsul Said
Some of you may have watched Spotlight,
a movie about the titular investigative journalists for The Boston Globe
who uncovered widespread child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests. The paper proved there was a pattern of abuse, allegations, and subsequently cover ups
by the church that have been going on for years.
Yesterday, 31 October, news broke that a teacher in a Tamil primary school in Hulu Langat had allegedly molested nine students
. The case actually happened in May of this year when a Year Five pupil reported the molestation to another teacher. The Tamil daily Makkal Osai
reported it and elaborates that the teacher had been doing this for several months. The revelation was brought to light when DAP Kulai representative, Teo Ni Ching, pressed the Education Ministry regarding the number of complaints received on teachers accused of molesting students and what action had been taken against them. For this Tamil primary school teacher in Hulu Langat, the action was a transfer
Yes, the teacher lives to 'teach' another day at another school without reprimand. Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the teacher is being "monitored" by the district and state education officers and told Teo in a written reply in Dewan Rakyat that "the ministry is working closely with the police to resolve the case according to the law."
Mahdzir said that a total of 15 reports of teachers molesting students were made between 2010 and October this year and all the teachers involved had been transferred to another school
and subjected to counselling and close monitoring.
Why are teachers only transferred into obscurity instead of being reprimanded?
When Teo Ni Ching pressed the ministry for the actions that will be taken against the teacher, the minstry had this to say, "JPN will take action after the court has made its decision". Netizens are of course, outraged by this blasé approach to paedophilia:
Image: Screengrab on The Star's Facebook post
The rhetoric in action is: innocent until proven guilty, but the Internet is not having it. Other commenters say that the teacher should at least be suspended until a verdict can be decided upon while some say the Ministry is condoning sexual abuse by letting the teacher off with a transfer.
Education director-general Tan Sri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof told The Malay Mail Online
that “until the investigations are completed, we cannot create a situation where someone is seen to be guilty before being proven to be guilty”. He commented that the transfer was fair to all parties involved and is part of the standard operating procedure
. He said the ministry had suspended the teacher from the school where the offence was alleged to have taken place by transferring him to another school until investigations are complete.
Out of public scrutiny and bias, the courts will decide the best course of action for alleged molester. We can only continue to lobby for the protection of the children in school and hope that we make enough noise that the ministry takes notice.