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South China Morning Post, Hong Kong, 27 August 1999
Father canes son in front of school for stealing wallet
By Ian Stewart in Kuala Lumpur
A Chinese secondary school in Perak State has come under fire for arranging for a father to cane his son in front of 2,000 students during a morning assembly. A leading educationalist described the incident as appalling, saying the boy would be emotionally scarred and take a long time to recover.
But the chairman of the school's Parent-Teacher Association said it would "serve as a good lesson to other students".
The student, 16, was caned by his father, a bread-seller, 64, in front of the entire student body, at the Sam Tet secondary school, near Ipoh, for allegedly stealing a teacher's wallet.
He was said to have taken the wallet from a table in full view of 40 classmates while the woman teacher was writing on a blackboard.
The father reportedly agreed to administer the punishment in exchange for the school's offer not to report the theft to police.
Aminah Ayob, head of the school of education of the Science University of Malaysia, said: "It is appalling for a father to cane his son in front of his friends. If he really needed to teach his son a lesson, he should have done it at home instead of humiliating him publicly."
Abdul Karim Majid, deputy secretary-general of the National Union of the Teaching Profession, said parents should not be involved or forced to be involved in corporal punishment of students.
But the Parent-Teacher Association's chairman, Wong Fai Thin, said the school's principal, Toh Ah Huat, had acted correctly and the father should be commended for his courage.
"His love for the son must be very deep for him to do this, knowing that he will have to face his friends, relatives and other people," Mr Wong said.
The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 31 August 1999
Letters to the Editor
Bizarre to let dad cane son in school
NGAN SIONG HING of Ipoh writes
THE public caning meted out by the father to the schoolboy who stole a teacher's purse at Sam Tet was most bizarre.
Since this is a disciplinary problem, the school authorities should have handled it. The act of stealing is, no doubt, wrong and should not be condoned.
But the mode of punishing the felon is also wrong. The principal or the disciplinary master should have administered the caning instead.
And one wonders how the education department can allow this to happen.
It did not take into account the psychological damage that this could lead to. The father should have been counselled on this. As I see it, public caning is a very serious thing. As far as possible, it should be avoided.
The fact is that this happened again in Sam Tet. What is wrong with the students of this famous school? Or, is it a management problem? The school is not lacking in support and it should engage a full time school counsellor to assist in the matter of discipline.
If the objective of the exercise is to inflict pain and shame, it was most successful. But is this good enough to change a youngster's ways?
If the boy becomes rotten at the end of the day, the school will say that he was expected to be like this even when he was in school.
If this is the way the school thinks, its role as provider of education needs a mindset overhaul.
And if the student already had a notorious record of discipline, stern action ought to have been taken earlier.
In discharging its moral and civic responsibility, the school must realise that even delinquents have human and moral rights.
Society should take a stand on matters such as this, especially when the punishment is most irrational.
It is not right to subject the parents to such a fate and the circumstances under which the father was made to cane his own son in front of everybody in the school ought to be thoroughly investigated.
This letter does not lend any support to the wrong done, but is against the obscurantist manner in which the student was disgraced and punished.
Copyright © 1999. Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd. All rights reserved.
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