KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the Ministry of Education (MoE) lacked conviction and was slow to respond in handling the case of 17-year-old Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam who exposed her male teacher for making rape jokes in school.
The Port Dickson MP said the education system in Malaysia needs to be revamped as the focus should not just be on instilling knowledge but teaching and encouraging kids to practice and have good moral values.
Speaking in an online forum dubbed “Bicara Anwar&Ain” on Facebook with cartoonist Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque better known as Zunar as host, Anwar said the fact that he hasn’t heard about an investigation from the MoE nor any stern warnings coming from the ministry was worrying especially when Ain has since revealed that she endured a torrid time in school ever since she made the revelations.
Anwar, a former education minister from 1986 to 1991 said: “In the past when I was minister we had similar cases but we reprimanded the teachers and sent them for courses and training to rectify the situation.
“People criticised us for having Islamic teachings in these courses but the thing is we were trying to instil good morals on those in the programme.
“The idea was to teach them not to be sexist, be considerate of others and also respectful. I do not believe in just punishing someone.
“Here however, I see no stern comments coming from MoE to at least put it out there that such behaviour is not acceptable,” he said.
Ain told Anwar how apart from receiving threats in school made her afraid to return, she also had qualms about going out in public.
She said she has been made so popular that people have politicised the situation while others are calling her out as an attention-seeker or going too far with the whole saga.
In response, Anwar said there are two things that need to happen, beginning with raising awareness.
He praised Ain for having the courage to step forward and speak up and hoped many more will follow suit.
“The second thing is the headmaster of the school should be on top of this. It’s all parties involved who need to come together and tackle this issue. I haven’t heard much about investigations.
“Thus we must ensure we do not tolerate this kind of nonsense anymore, it is wrong. Making a comment and being apprehended is one thing but this is in our culture and we need to eradicate it.
“We should take advantage of Ain’s courage in raising awareness and continue to talk about these things and from now on, education must be with morals.
“No point having all the knowledge in the world but zero morals, respect and social disposition,” he added.
Ain had started a Twitter Hashtag #MakeSchoolASaferPlace that set Twitter abuzz and appeared among the top 10 trending topics in the country — with even celebrities sharing their personal stories of sexual harassment.
Her original post on Twitter was accompanied by the hashtag #MakeSchoolASaferPlace, in which she called out public figures such as former education minister Maszlee Malik, cartoonist Zunar and celebrity actress and singer Adibah Noor, to support the cause.