Media statement by MP for Kulai, Teo Nie Ching on 1 December 2021:
Yesterday we heard from Ain and her family that they were served with a defamation suit.
According to the statement of claim, the teacher, Khairul Nizam is suing Ain and her father over three TikTok videos, three Twitter postings, and several other alleged defamatory actions.
This is clearly a manifestation of a failure on the part of the Ministry of Education to handle a situation of conflict between a teacher and a student with maturity and wisdom.
Had the Minister of Education (MOE) created a proper window for a frank discussion and mediation for all parties to express themselves and hear each other out, the situation whereby we have a teacher and his student suing each other could have been avoided.
But this was not done. From the beginning, MOE did not take ownership of the problem, leaving it to the police while taking a lackadaisical attitude. The Minister and his team failed to resolve this before it turned into a legal dispute.
This shows that the Minister of Education has failed to make schools safe for not only Ain but all students alike. Ain had to also choose to leave public school and transfer to a private school to pursue her education.
This only indicates that the system has failed and we as adults have failed children like her.
The Minister of Education should seek expert advice and seriously review all standard operating procedures (SOPs) and existing policies on investigating, and handling cases of sexual harassment in schools and educational institutions.
Victims who speak up must be protected and the system must not be designed to punish that courage taken to speak up. Ain’s right to expression and opinion must also be respected. With the recent development, victims of sexual harassment in schools or educational institutions will now lack the conviction and confidence to speak up.
I would like to stress again that the Ministry of Education is also not addressing the elephant in the room i.e. teachers need holistic training and capacity building to enhance their understanding of the safe school concept. The concept of safe school is not one that only focuses on the physical safety of students but one that also encompasses the mental and emotional safety of students.