When I was a kid, barely an adolescent, I had gone to school wearing the holy ash mark on my forehead, common to all Hindus perhaps.
A schoolmate who noticed, asked about it. So I explained that I put it on after praying. He said, “So you pray?”. I answered in the affirmative, adding that I pray, just like he does.
“But it is no use praying, you know. No matter how you pray, you people will all go to hell, because you all Kafir, my dad said.” At that impressionable age, this statement alarmed me greatly.
I actually ended up asking the Ustaz at the school, is it true that I am going to hell and related the conversation that ensued before. He said this. “Only those with iman (faith) will go to heaven, and no one but God decides who is the faithful. Forget what he said, ilmu dia sikit.”
What he said stayed with me all these while. You see, the guy could have just affirmed what the boy said. But he was obviously a much wiser and responsible and deserved the title of Ustaz.
Flash forward several decades to 2010. Last week, we were “regaled” with the story of a certain school principal who told off Chinese and Indian students in her school in a horribly racist diatribe that drew the ire of a lot of people, the most vocal of whom were certain politicians. Read some reports here and here.
The school principal, Siti Inshah Mansor, is apparently on leave now. The Education Ministry DG says it was all a “misunderstanding”. Must have been helluva misunderstanding if 17 police reports were lodged against her.
That a school principal can give vent to such feelings in front of her students at a school that was obviously multiracial, in a country in such a climate now, points to abject stupidity. Either that or she was suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome. Or should we consider a third possibility? That she was suffering from encephalitis, thanks to a virulent strain of Perkasavirus?
If this was the case, consider this a case of diminished responsibility, and should she ever recover from the fever she’s suffering now, perhaps she should undergo follow up treatment at the neighbouring Hospital Sentosa.
Rationale? No responsible, sane teacher who has hundreds of kids under her tutelage, would have said something. Schools are one of the places where your core values are first forged. Teachers are not supposed to perpetuate the same hate mongering that some of our politicians seem to excel at. That too during Ramadhan. Nice.
The police are “conducting investigations” it seems. Excuse my cynicism but she will get away with it. My question is, does she realise her foot-in-the-mouth harangue was wrong? or does she think she’s right?
If is it is the latter, I shudder to think of its implication on our school-going kids.
*sigh* 53 years after Merdeka, some mindsets are still Jurassic.