Malaysian teachers gather in rare protest over court case

Teachers and parents were among those who gathered in Negeri Sembilan to show support for teacher Azizan Manap (centre), who had slapped a pupil for allegedly sniffing glue and bullying others. He was taken to court by the student's family for assaul
Teachers and parents were among those who gathered in Negeri Sembilan to show support for teacher Azizan Manap (centre), who had slapped a pupil for allegedly sniffing glue and bullying others. He was taken to court by the student's family for assault.PHOTO: BERNAMA

SEREMBAN • Several hundred Malaysian teachers gathered yesterday in Negeri Sembilan to provide moral support for one of them who had been hauled to court, in a rare public protest by educators.

Teacher Azizan Manap had slapped a pupil for allegedly sniffing glue and bullying others and was taken to court by the pupil's family for assault, local media reported.

The case was hotly debated on social media for months as it raised concerns about indiscipline in schools and what teachers could do about it. There was also a social media campaign called #PrayForCikguAzizan, saying he was just doing his job to instil discipline.

About 300 teachers went to the court in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan's capital, yesterday in a rare protest by Malaysian teachers or civil servants. Also present were parents, local residents and representatives of the National Union of the Teaching Profession.

The Magistrate's Court gave Mr Azizan, 44, a discharge not amounting to acquittal to cheers and applause from the crowd.

Mr Azizan, a senior assistant in charge of pupil affairs at Taman Semarak primary school in Nilai town, slapped an 11-year-old pupil on the left cheek in April, according to The Malaysian Insight news site yesterday. The incident occurred during school assembly.

He was charged for voluntarily causing hurt and faced a jail sentence of up to a year, a fine of RM2,000 (S$660) or both if convicted. He was released on a RM500 bail.

Yesterday, magistrate Mohd Zaki Abd Rahman discharged Mr Azizan after the deputy public prosecutor told the court of an instruction from the Attorney-General's Chambers to withdraw the charge, Berita Harian Malaysia reported.

Mr Azizan told reporters as he was leaving the court: "I forgive my pupil. I hold no grudge against him and his family members. I sincerely hope that he will be a good son."

He said he will continue to teach but will let the Education Ministry decide if he should remain at the school in Nilai town.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2017, with the headline 'Malaysian teachers gather in rare protest over court case'. Print Edition | Subscribe