A 25 year old Muslim convert and primary school teacher lodged a police report against the school board’s director who had requested her to remove her headscarf if she wanted to continue teaching at SJK (C) Nan Ya in Kota Tinggi. Did she feel victimised and was therefore seeking help? And was it necessary for her to make the police report?
Choi Yi Shan, a 25 year old Muslim convert and primary school teacher, turned the tables on her colleagues over a remark that was made over her choice of dressing. She lodged a police report against the school board’s director, Phang Ah Ngang, 72, who had requested her to remove her headscarf if she wanted to continue teaching at SJK (C) Nan Ya in Kota Tinggi. Consequently, the news drew flaks amongst the Muslim groups that demanded action to be taken upon the school board’s director remarks.
The headscarf remarks uttered by the school board director were neither criminal nor seditious. Today, Choi received a public apology from the school’s board and along with the school’s principal. In a picture taken by reporters, Choi is seen shaking hands with the principal. She was seen donning a red headscarf, sunglasses and with a hand fan hiding her face.
The earlier events that transpired between her and fellow subordinates, prompted Choi to hastily make the police report over a remark which could have been solved through many other possible channels like requesting for an explanation through an official complaint letter.
Given the explosive nature of Muslim sensitivity in the country, the lass’s impatience has cost the nation another blow along the racial and religious lines.
The question is: Did she feel victimised and was therefore seeking help? And was it necessary for her to make the police report?
As a Chinese Muslim convert, Choi should have been accustomed to treating the elderly with a little of deserving respect if she was raised up in typical Chinese fashion. The Chinese customary is as such that elders are often revered in the family, within society spectrum and most of all are given a listening ear. Even if the elderly people are gravely wrong with their statements and opinions, there would have been a proper dialogue or amicable consultation process to address the following concern. Sadly, those well-meaning virtues are not well heeded in today’s generation.
The choice of dressing, whether Muslim or not, should not have been an issue in the first place. Headscarves are, but, a personal choice, culturally ingrained and for some, a religious obligatory.
We can only assume that Choi might have been facing the constant harassment and ridicule to the point where she could no longer escape and filed an official police report. But still, this is no reason to act rashly or contemptuously against Phang and the school.
What entails in her police report is no longer a private issue between the two parties. Despite being transferred out from the school and receiving a major apology, the police report has yet to be withdrawn and pending investigations are still ongoing. UMNO Youth has called for the full brunt of the law to be brought against Phang and the school for his insensitive remark and intend to make ‘as a lesson to all’.
The chain of events has sparked further uneasiness among the fundamentalists, fueling at every opportunity to accuse the non-Malays of challenging the Muslims. This madness needs to stop somewhere.
Tolerance and unity is not just a sole initiative and is a joint effort undertaken by all, and we, living through the years of harmonious peace side by side, should ensure that there is no room or space for extremism. Choi should withdraw the police report and put the lid on any political perpetrators for the sake of national harmony. This matter should not have been blown out of proportion in the first place.
* This is the writer’s personal opinion.