EVEN before the Solidarity Week with Palestine officially kick off this Sunday (Oct 29), some schools have already gone wild over the celebration which included among others, the use of ‘weapons’ by young children similar to what their Palestinian peers are groomed to do.
Clad in balaclava masks, some young children were caught on photographs holding toy AK47 rifles and ‘marching’ around ala-militants in the school compound.
Such initiatives had some parents worried about whatever is happening to the schools. One parent asked, “Are we now becoming a Taliban nation? Any idea how to stop this nonsense that schools are used to express solidarity with Palestinians?”
Amid such ‘craze’ which is to be expected as many adult Malaysians are already spiritually ‘up in arms’ in the Israel-Hamas conflict, Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek has issued a statement saying that some schools had already gone ahead with the solidarity celebration.
“The Education Ministry will not compromise on what has happened,” she is quoted saying to her fellow Cabinet ministers.
Any civil servant found to defy the ministry directives would be expected to face stern disciplinary actions. “Stern actions will be taken against the errant schools,” she said. “For that reason, we have issued strict directives to only promote harmony and positive values based on humanitarian ground.”
“The Solidarity Week with Palestinians is supposed to begin on Oct 29. Imagine if the ministry did not take over!” she expressed her alarm. The letter that was issued had sternly warned that the schools are to take on the humanitarian aspect of the solidarity move.”
However, Fadlina’s explanation does not hold water with Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF) president S. Shashi Kumar insisting that the minister should instead focus on improving the quality of education in the country.
He emphasised that the war between Israel and Hamas has little or nothing to do with the Palestnian cause. “Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas himself said that Hamas does not represent the Palestinians,” he told FocusM. “Countries like Arab Saudi and the rest of the Islamic nations do not support Hamas.”
“If we are to stand in solidarity with one group, why was there no solidarity in Malaysia when genocide happened in Bangladesh in 2021 whereby the Buddhist, Hindu and Christian minorities were persecuted there? Their houses were burned down and many were butchered and killed. They were the innocent victims of the genocide.”
Another parent said that since a letter dated Oct 21 which was signed off by deputy director-general of education Azman Adnan became public knowledge, parents have raised the matter with the parliamentarians.
East Malaysians, including a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Sarawak have expressed their objection against the ministry’s plan. So far, it is learnt that schools in Sabah have decided not to participate in the Solidarity Week.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof told FocusM that he had raised the matter with the minister concerned and discussed it during the cabinet meeting. “The minister (Fadhlina) has given her explanation,” he noted.
DAP’s Beruas MP Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham said he had also brought the matter up in the Dewan Rakyat recently. “The Cabinet has decided today it is not compulsory and the programme has to be controlled,” he told FocusM. “It is only intended to teach humanitarian values and not hatred or violence.”
However, Ngeh expressed his concern that such issue should never be allowed in the schools.
“If we adults are not able to resolve the issue ourselves, how are the children going to understand it? As has been shown in the activities that have been carried out today, I am worried some may use it to sow hatred and violence,” he lamented.
Ngeh alongside Puncak Borneo MP Willie Mongin have urged the Education Minister to call off the programme.
Another grandfather of five grandchildren, one in primary school and two in kindergartens, commented on social media that he, being a Muslim, is “shocked to know of such nonsense happening in schools.”
Preferring to remain anonymous, he said that he “will bring up the matter to the government through my contact”.
Despite Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim assuring the public that the Palestine solidarity programmes in schools need to be controlled, parents are still unhappy with the way how things have developed.
Is the school now a safe place for a good quality education? Perhaps, one mother’s comment sums it all. “This is really crazy! The way the schoolchildren are made to dress up is more frightening than the Halloween costumes (which is celebrated on Oct 31 every year)?” – Oct 27, 2023