Deputy minister says checking if racial typecasting from national syllabus

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon (pictured) acknowledged that a controversial question in a workbook from a local primary school in Petaling Jaya did revolve around content from the ministry’s Moral Education text. — File pic by Saw Siong Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 ― Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon said he is verifying if a primary school test question that drew complaints of racial stereotyping is from the national school syllabus.

When contacted by Malay Mail Online regarding the issue at a primary school in Petaling Jaya, Chong said he was uncertain the material was gleaned from officials texts.

“I'm checking if that's our textbook,” he said

However, Chong expressed disagreement with questions that sought to typecast the country’s multiracial community.

He also said it was presumptuous to guess an individual’s faith based solely on names.

“Ah Chong can be a Buddhist, Taoist or Christian and that is well known in this country.

“I urge schools to be more sensitive and careful when they set questions,” said Chong, who is also MCA Youth chief.

In a post on the Instagram photo-sharing service this week, actress Sarah Lian shared a picture of a moral test paper apparently from a national school in Petaling Jaya that asked students to associate names to different houses of worship.

The names were Devi, Hock Lee, Kamal, and Steve. Students were required to write the appropriate name under pictures of a church, a Hindu temple, a Chinese temple, and a mosque.

In the photograph, the student — a daughter of Lian's friend — linked Devi to the church, Steve to the Hindu temple, Kamal to the Chinese temple, and Hock Lee to the mosque. The examiner marked all four answers as wrong.

Lian criticised the question as “racist” and “archaic”.

Minister in charge of national unity Tan Sri Joseph Kurup on Wednesday criticised the nature of the question, and said the teacher should be disciplined.

Malay Mail Online is seeking clarification from the school in question.