Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Article 3: Everyone has the rights to life, liberty and security of person. Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Article 26(1): Everyone has the right to education. Higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Thomas Jefferson, United States Declaration of Independence.

More than 200 years after Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, these truths cease to be self-evident at least to some of the teachers in Malaysia.

Let us hope that one day there will be no more oppression and bullying in schools where the biggest bullies of all are none other than the school principals themselves.

Friday, April 30, 2010


How would the parents react if a teacher were to shout at their child and call the child "bodoh" (meaning stupid in malay) repeatedly in front of everyone? This can turn out to be a big issue and the parents have every right to make a fuss over it. But what about the situation where the school principal yelled at the teacher in front of everyone and called her "bodoh" repeatedly. Is this acceptable behaviour? This is what is happening in a secondary school in Kuala Lumpur. How did it all start? Well, here the story goes!

It all started on the day I went into the principal's office and asked her to certify my certs because I wanted to apply for a postgaduate course. But lo and behold! The moment I told her about my intention to further my studies, her attitude towards me changed. (Prior to that day we were on good terms with each other.) Later on, during a meeting, she called out my name and the name of another colleague who is also doing a postgraduate course and asked us to "tangguhkan" (meaning to postpone) the course. She also said that as long as she is in the school we cannot further our studies. At that time I wasn't even sure whether I would be accepted for the postgraduate program. The application isn't successful anyway as my field of research is a bit unique and there's no one to supervise me. But the damage is done.

Nothing could ever be the same again since that fateful day. No doubt, the principal is constantly looking out for my faults through her series of spies. Well, we can't blame the spies though. Who wouldn't want a promotion? Who doesn't want to be a guru cemerlang and a ketua bidang? Who doesn't want a good report and high marks for their laporan prestasi (annual report)? To betray another for one's personal achievement is human nature. The school has therefore suddenly become a dangerous place for me. A place of betrayal. A place of fear.

One day the principal's great opportunity came. She asked me to photostat the front page of my bank account book for her. I told her that I normally do my photostating at Chow Kit when I go shopping during the weekends. The moment she heard the word "Chow Kit" she started shouting at me trying to hint at the fact that Chow Kit is a place for prostitutes and that decent people don't go there. She wanted to know what kind of a woman I am to go to such a place probably hinting that I am a prostitute. When I tried to explain to her that Chow Kit is a great place for shopping, she shouted at me and asked me to shut up.

She then asked the clerk to photostat the front page of my bank account book and give a copy to everyone in the school. I followed the clerk into the printing room telling her that she had no right to do that to me. But the principal held my arm and pushed me back into the office shouting at me and telling me to stand there and not to move. What she did that day clearly fit into Smith & Hogan's definition of assault and battery. When she shouted at me she was so fierce that there was an apprehension of immediate physical violence. I was wondering if she would slap me. Her pulling and pushing can easily amount to a battery.

Just how much physical contact is allowed between the principal and the teacher? According to Smith & Hogan in their book entitled Criminal Law, "An assault is any act by which D, intentionally or recklessly, causes P to apprehend immediate and unlawful personal violence upon P. But "violence" here includes any unlawful touching of another, however slight, for, as Blackstone wrote:
"the law cannot draw the line between degrees of violence, and therefore prohibits the first and the lowest stage of it; every man's person being sacred, and no other having the right to meddle with it, in any the slightest manner."
As Lane LCJ put it:
"An assault (sc. meaning "battery") is any unintentional touching of another person without the consent of that person and without lawful excuse. It need not necessarily be hostile, or rude, or aggressive, as some of the cases seem to indicate."
Presumably the same applies to assault in the strict sense - it is enough that P apprehends some unwanted touching.

Since this is my first article for this blog, I think I should give a brief introduction of myself. Who am I? A secondary school teacher who was once the happiest woman in the world and who for the first time in my life discovered hell. My life has always been a happy and carefree one. I used to be very proud of my job and my school. Throughout my 22 years of teaching, I have only taught in 3 schools i.e.
1) 3 years as a temporary teacher in a chinese primary school after which I entered the Teachers' Training College
2) After my 2 and a half years of training, I taught in another chinese primary school for 10 years after which
3) I was promoted to a secondary school where I have been teaching for 8 years and 4 months until now.

Life has been flowing smoothly all these years. I have never known the meaning of sadness. All of a sudden, everything changed for the worst. I have changed too - into a very bitter person. When I look at myself in the mirror, I really couldn't believe that the bitter woman in the mirror is me. With the great mental torture and great emotional stress that I have to suffer each day I find it very difficult to concentrate on my work. All my waking hours are spent on planning how to get away from the school. I am really desperate trying to seek help everywhere. I hope that Datuk Muhyddin Yassin and Dr Wee Ka Siong would get to read this blog and sympathize with me and bring me justice. I ask for nothing. I only want a transfer to another school. I hope that my pleas would not fall on deaf ears. It is actually no use telling about the pengarah about the principal. The outcome is unimaginable. Can the NUTP help? All they can do is to call the pengarah and the school. What would the principal do to me after that?

I am actually very worried. I handed in the transfer forms to the clerk (this is the procedure) and she asked me to sign first and write the date. I never get the chance to know what the principal wrote in the forms. What if she doesn't approve my transfer? The principal shouldn't ask the the teachers to sign what they do not know. I hope that the Ministry of Education will look into this matter.

Why mental torture and great emotional stress? When the principal was my good friend, even those teachers who have never talked to me before suddenly talked to me nicely. After being shouted at and humiliated by the principal in front of everyone, those who were once my friends tried to ignore me. I wonder if this is an unwritten rule in every school. Is it because the teachers fear that they will get a bad report if they talk to someone whom the principal doesn't like? Of course nobody dares to offend her because she has the power to change a teacher's life. If she doesn't like the teacher she can give her a bad report and since the annual increment of a teacher's salary depends on the marks that the principal writes in the report, she has the power to ensure that there is no increment for those whom she doesn't like. The teachers can't do anything about this because they have to sign the form before the principal gives them marks and they won't know what marks they would get until they discover that their pay has become static by that time it would be too late to argue with her. In my former school (chinese primary school), the principal always showed us our marks. At least, we know what to expect.

I am not the kind of teacher who likes to leapt from one school to another. During my 22 years of teaching, I have never applied for a transfer. Before the present principal came to my school, it was my intention to teach in this school until I retire. When I first came, there wasn't enough tables for all the teachers. I waited for 4 years before I finally got a new table. I was so proud and happy that I pasted my photos on the table. When my colleagues asked me why I pasted my photos on the table, I told them that these photos will remain on my table until the day I retire. The students in this school are easy to teach and their discipline is much better compared to other secondary schools. They have very good manners and I love them. They always kiss my hand after every lesson. I am teaching three classes of Form 1 and two classes of Form 2. Marking is much easier than what I experienced in my former school. In that chinese school, there was so much to mark and the books kept falling on my head. But I would rather go back to a chinese school now in order to escape from hell. Why do I want to leave the present school and my cushy job so suddenly in the middle of the year? I can't even wait until the end of the year. Because if I stay any longer I will go mad. I am already on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

I am the kind of dreamy person who lives in my own world. I don't like to create trouble for anyone. But all of a sudden, I have to wake up from my beautiful dream and learn how to survive in the midst of cruelty and oppression. This is really tough for me.

I am blogging because I need support and help. Deep in my heart I am calling out for help. Can anyone hear my call for help? Would help and justice ever come my way?

Should the school principals be given the absolute power to control the teachers' lives? Who are these principals anyway? Do they have the right to torture and humiliate the teachers when they themselves are far from perfect?