Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saravanan slams Hindu Sangam, asks KLites to speak up and MIC bureau: 'Racist' teacher issue not solved (Malaysiakini)


Federal Territories Deputy Minister M Saravanan today slammed the Malaysia Hindu Sangam (MHS) for not channelling to the authorities sooner their complaints on why plots of land for Hindu temples and crematoriums were missing in Kuala Lumpur Draft City Plan 2020.

"There are 10 days left but you had all the time - three to four months - and now with only 10 days you are telling me that 120 temples are not in the plan... what have you been doing until the very last minute?" asked Saravanan, in an interview with Malaysiakini.

MHS president A Vaithilingam had on Thursday criticised DBKL's draft plan, pointing out that more than 120 temples and two well-known crematoriums in Sentul and Jalan Loke Yew were left out of the pioneer draft plan that aims to shape the city's future development.

Vaithilingam also accused the authorities of conspiring to get rid of the religious sites by the year 2020.

But Saravanan said the Vaithilingam should have first provided him with the list of temples affected as most old temples are registered with MHS, an Indian religious group.

"There is a proper way to go about things; first you should have listed your complaints to me and then you inform the press or do whatever you want," the deputy minister said.

"You see he must write to us asking why the temples and crematoriums are missing and then we will give them an explanation."

Saravanan also asked for reasons why the MHS did not expose the glitch and address the problem when they claim to have known about it a month ago.

"If they are aware why didn't they highlight it much sooner and knowing full well that I have taken full responsibility to protect temple privileges - why didn't they bring it up to my attention," he repeated.

‘We are not arrogant'

Saravanan said though the proposal was drafted by expert town planners, it was nevertheless still just a draft and therefore open to public criticism. He behoved KLites to highlight mistakes and issues that may later arise.

"We are not arrogant to say we already got our plan and we're going to go ahead and implement it. Of course, we will consult the experts again and if we think the whole plan is not viable we have to stop the whole thing," he said.

"He (Vaithilingam) is not an expert and neither am I... I don't know what is missing, I will have to get the details, and ask them why, if those sites are not in the map," Saravanan added.

He said the proposed draft was given to the public for their comments and feedback which would be directed to the ministry for the final decision making process.

He added that he was not directly involved in the planning process as the City Hall must have the freedom to conjure up their own plans.

"DBKL must have their own plans... at this point DBKL is handling it - it is still at the draft level - DBKL will compile the complaints and send it to the ministry. We don't want to interfere at the DBKL level... let them deal with their draft (because) it has to still come up to the ministry for final decision," said Saravanan.

He also reiterated he is in the ministry as a representative of the Indian community and if the community has a problem they should write to him.

"You see the draft is man-made... there can be short falls. Even the minister and I can make mistakes. (And if we make mistakes then) there is another stage where complaints will be heard by two retired judges. "

"(And) we encourage people to provide their criticisms... we want people to point out what is wrong. After all we are doing this in their interest," said Saravanan.

RACIST SCHOOL TEACHER ISSUE

MIC Youth education bureau has begged to differ with the Education Ministry that the issue involving a teacher who hurled racial abuses against her Indian students has been resolved.

Bureau chief M Saravanan voiced his dissatisfaction that no stern action had been taken against the 35-year-old teacher despite numerous calls to do so from various quarters.

“Parents, MIC and NGOs are unhappy with this and want the ministry to take severe action against the teacher. Failure to do so will only cause more anger,” he told Malaysiakini yesterday.

Saravanan was responding to education director-general Alimuddin Mohd Dom who was quoted as saying in the Star on Thursday that the teacher had been given an administrative warning and transferred to another school.

This youth leader - who shares the same name and initial as the deputy FT minister as well as MIC's information chief - said all parties agreed that the issue had been resolved and hoped that they would not raise the issue again.

“The Kuala Langat district education office also obtained the assistance of Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator T Murugiah from People's Progressive Party (PPP) on Aug 5 to set up a meeting between the parents and teachers,” he added.

Alimuddin also revealed that the teacher was placed temporarily in the Selangor education department’s counselling unit.

‘Everybody knows she was wrong’

Meanwhile, Saravanan said this was not an isolated incident and therefore the action taken must serve as a lesson for other teachers not to repeat the offence.

“Everybody knows the teacher committed a serious offence, but even under such circumstances no serious action has been taken,” he said, expressing both disappointment and bewilderment.

Saravanan stressed that the education bureau will continue to raise this issue if the ministry did not act accordingly.

He also said that Murugiah had told a recent meeting on the issue that the transfer was only a temporary measure and a more serious punishment would be meted out.

“However, this has not happened,” he said, adding that the deputy minister should have pursued this matter further.

Early this month, two students from SMK Telok Panglima Garang in Kuala Langat filed police reports against the teacher.

They revealed that the teacher had called Indian students 'keling pariah', 'Negro' and 'black monkeys', among other derogatory names.

In their reports, the Form Four and Form Five students said the teacher also told students during class that 'Indians came from dogs', Indians are 'children of prostitutes' and the community is 'stupid'.

She also supposedly stated that the community's youths 'do not have testicles', 'always menstruate' and indulge in 'thuggery and theft'.

MIC leaders, including its president S Samy Vellu, and various NGOs had expressed dissatisfaction with the ministry and called for stern action to be taken against the teacher.

A MIC deputy minister had also suggested that the teacher be sacked.

both news n photo courtesy of Malaysiakini