PETALING JAYA: A parent has come out to clear the air in the case of a national primary school here which has been accused of racism over a question on a moral test that his daughter sat for.
The father, who wished to be known as Arvin Gold, said the allegations of racism were the unfortunate result of an innocent joke that had quickly turned sour.
He had posted on his Facebook page the test question which asked the students to match names to houses of worship. The names Devi, Hock Lee, Kamal, and Steve were to be correctly matched with a church, Hindu temple, Buddhist temple and mosque.
The post went viral after actress Sarah Lian, who is a family friend, shared it on Instagram.
In the photograph Lian shared, Arvin’s daughter had matched Devi with the church, Steve with the Hindu temple, Kamal with the Buddhist temple and Hock Lee with the mosque.
The examiner had marked all the answers wrong, which was what caused anger in the Internet community.
Arvin, however, is of the opinion that it is unfair to blame the school and the teachers. He said they had actually done a great job of establishing racial harmony among the schoolchildren.
“It started off as a joke on my Facebook page and my friend (Lian) asked if she could share it and I said ‘sure’.
“But things started getting out of hand and now people are blaming the school and the teachers and I don’t think that’s right because they’re just following the syllabus and the textbook.”
He surmised that the question was based on a principle of the Rukun Negara, which was “belief in God”.
“The question takes note that Hindus go to the Hindu temple, Buddhists go to the Buddhist temple, Christians go to the church and Muslims go to the mosque, and that is not wrong.
“I think the test paper wanted the students to think out of the box and instead of naming the religions straight out, it gave instead the various houses of worship and the typical names of the followers of the religions.”
He said if anything should be changed about the question, it was that it should be given to Year Six instead of Year One schoolchildren.
“My daughter is in Standard One and it is likely that she will not know how to answer that sort of question at such a tender age.”
Arvin said the accusations that the school was racist could not be further from the truth. He stressed that he and his wife had chosen to enrol their child in the school because of its balanced racial composition and because students of different races were often seen together there.
“I am Indian and my wife, who is Chinese, is a product of the school. We decided to send our child to that particular school because the racial harmony that exists there is obviously very strong.
“We are in fact very proud of the school as it has always had principals and teachers who are very dedicated.
“It is consistently one of the top schools in Selangor, and it is one of the few, if not the only, school in Malaysia with a balanced mix of the main three races.
“This one incident should not erase all the effort the teachers and staff have put into building the school into what it is today.”