PETALING JAYA: Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Cheras has apologised and retracted its ban on students wearing sarees at its Aidilfitri gathering which will be held at the school’s grounds tomorrow.
The school’s principal Maznah Latif said a new invitation letter, along with an apology, has been issued today.
“This new letter states that students are allowed to wear their own traditional attire,” she told FMT.
The initial letter, dated Jul 11, went viral on Facebook today after it contained the ban on wearing sarees.
It garnered much criticism with many calling it a form of discrimination towards the Indian community.
Explaining the contents of the controversial letter, Maznah said the ban followed last year’s Aidilfitri celebration when sarees were allowed.
“Last year, students were allowed to wear their respective traditional attire including the Indian students who wore sarees. But then some of the other students started laughing at the girls who wore sarees.
“They didn’t understand that it was their traditional dress and we explained the situation but we didn’t want the same thing to happen this year.”
She also said that some of the sarees the Indian students wore revealed their bellies and the school felt it was “not suitable” for the students to wear it.
“So this year, we initially didn’t want to allow it. But we were mistaken and we have admitted our mistake.”
The controversial letter first came to FMT’s attention via a Facebook group called Tamiler Otrumai Kudumbum, a group of Indian Malaysians concerned with issues affecting the Indian community in the country.
Its founder, Paul Prasad, told FMT that the group was made aware of the letter by one of its members through WhatsApp.
“I asked one of my members to call the school and confirm the matter before we posted the letter on Facebook,” he said.
He took note that the school had apologised and retracted the ban but expressed hope that the same thing would not happen again.
“The saree is a traditional Indian dress. What makes them think it can’t be used for a Raya event? Why is it that others are allowed to wear their traditional dresses but you take issue with the Indian traditional attire?
“We are Malaysians, we are a multi-cultural society and strongly feel that this kind of unwanted statement should not be projected especially among those who are still so young.”
In June last year, a similar ban was imposed by the Ipoh city council, which had sent out invitation cards for council employees to attend an Aidilfitri gathering.
The invitation letter had stated that the employees were allowed to wear their traditional attire “except sarees”.
The council, however, said that the dress code had been misinterpreted.
“The confusion arose due to a misunderstanding. When it says ‘except saree’, it means the staff can wear a suitable saree and those who work in the field can make a choice to wear a saree, office wear, or anything that is appropriate for the ceremony,” the council later said after an image of the invitation card went viral.