NIBONG TEBAL - More than 100 parents held a protest outside a school in Penang on Saturday (April 2), accusing it of ignoring rampant bullying and alleged gangsterism.
According to Malay Mail Online, the parents claimed 11 such incidents occurred in Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Bandar Tasek Mutiara in the town of Simpang Ampat last month. The bullying had allegedly been going on for the past two years.
The latest case on Thursday (March 31) allegedly involved a group of 20 students beating up a smaller group of their classmates.
Factory worker S Mohan, 42, told The Star he was at the school to meet the principal over an earlier incident in which his two sons - aged 15 and 16 - were beaten up when he heard the commotion on the ground floor.
"I tried to break up the fight and one of the students from the bigger group 'shooed' me away," he added.
A worried Mr Mohan, who then realised that the gangsterism problem in the school was out of control, lodged a police report on the same day.
South Seberang Prai district police chief Supt Abdul Shafee Abdul Samad said the case was being investigated as a rioting incident.
"The were no injuries and the school has taken the necessary disciplinary action," he said. "We have also recorded the statements of the students involved who told us that no weapons were used."
At Saturday's protest, parents toting placards urged the state's Education Department to intervene and prevent similar incidents.
Penang's Deputy Chief Minister P. Ramasamy reportedly attended the protest, which was stopped by the police. They prevented the parents from entering the school's compound to meet the principal.
"This is a big problem," Dr Ramasamy told reporters in Malay outside the school. "I feel that the school's management is not performing well.
"So, if I am not allowed to be involved in resolving this issue, I am asking for the school's principal and senior assistant to resign."
Form Three student S. Gukendran, 16, who arrived at the protest with his right arm in a sling, told The Star he was injured after being beaten outside the school on Thursday.
“A group arrived on motorcycles and began hitting my hands and legs with their helmets.
“My friend D. Melvin Ruben, 16, who was with me, was not spared,” Gukendran said.
R. Yaswanth, 16, who transferred out of the school, said he had been punched and hit many times during his two years there.
He said although he was the victim, the school transferred him out instead of his attackers.
Penang Education Department director Shaari Osman told Malay Mail Online an investigation would be conducted and action taken against the school if its administration was found guilty of any wrongdoing.
He added that the department had not received any report on the incident and a meeting would be held with parents and teachers on Wednesday (April 6).