This is not the first time an issue like this has made the headlines and especially in this month where Muslims are observing Ramadan.
So, in the wake of this new case, the Government, Education Ministry and schools as well as Muslims are being made to bear the brunt of the outcry.
Making mincemeat out of the incident would be totally unethical just as much as covering it up or trying to pull wool over it is definitely not permissible.
No, we must learn to handle such incidents with clarity, reasonableness and affirmative action if we want to take our nation forward.
It needs collaborative spirit from all sides if we want to be a mature political, social and economic parliamentary democracy. It calls for, above all, sound leadership.
To begin with, not all teachers are saints or angels. It is no different for any other profession or careers too.
As much as one ugly duckling in any family does not take the shine away from the rest, likewise one bad apple does not destroy the entire basket of the teaching profession provided, of course, that we take decisive and appropriate action.
And any such remedial action taken must be immediate and
long term in nature and effectiveness.
Blaming the Education Minister in totality in this case will not wean out good from bad.
At the same time, the authorities and politicians must learn not to go on the defensive immediately but they do not have to pussyfoot either.
What the leaders and politicians must remember is to make a statement to the press that reflects utmost professionalism. They must not be perceived to be taking sides or shifting blame.
They must be familiar with the art and science of public relations which, if ethically employed, can help them to soundly manage such difficult situations.
Meanwhile, perhaps it is also time for the Education Ministry, particularly at the ministerial level, to also use such incidents to cut across the divide and showcase the policies in place.
The deputy Education Minister rightly used his ability and office by making statements that would temporarily augur well in this situation.
However, he needs to use this situation to help the citizens to recognise that the ministry is with the people regardless of religion and race. He must immediately spell out existing remedial steps until such time that a long-term solution is carved out.
By all means, announce that in view of this incident a task force comprising educationists, ministry people, members from opposition camps and civil society is being considered to re-visit existing policies to address such undesirable outbursts.
An MIC leader rightly responded to the situation by making the right statements. It helps to allay fears and win support across the divides.
The police should be the last to jump onto the bandwagon of publicity. Each time they do so, it gives the impression that they are in cahoots with the ruling political party.
The police should merely state that all affected and involved parties, be it the Government, relevant ministry, school and/or concerned parents, will be assisted in this matter in the best way consistent with the laws of the country. The key word here is “assisted”, not “take action”.
We cannot continue to brush incidents like this off as “a miscommunication” or “I was misquoted” anymore.
As the saying goes, a crisis is a time for us to spot the opportunities to improve situations and win hearts. But to do so, we must be ethics-centred.
J. D. LOVRENCIEAR Kuala Lumpur The STAR Home News Opinion Letters to the Editors June 24, 2015