The family of the non-Muslim Orang Asli girls slapped for not reciting a doa (Islamic prayer) at school last month has been offered cash to retract their police report, it is claimed.
According to SK Bihai Parent Teacher Association deputy chairperson Arom Asir, the family of Hassan Achoi was approached on Nov 7 and offered RM300 to retract the police report.
“Along Hassan, the brother of one of the girls, had contacted me on Thursday (Nov 8) to inform me and ask for my advice.
“He said that he was approached after a PTA meeting on Wednesday (Nov 7), and that the offer was RM300 for each of the students slapped,” he said when met in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 9.
He was in the capital city to attend a conference on Orang Asli rights.
Malaysiakini was unable to contact Along as his village, Pos Bihai, is located far in the interiors of Gua Musang, near the Perak-Kelantan border, and does not have telephone coverage.
However, Arom, who later returned to his village last week, met with the childrens’ parents and confirmed the details of the conversation with the teachers.
“They told me that the group of teachers offered RM250 per child, and that the teacher who slapped the children would top up RM50 to the amount, making it RM300 per child,” he said.
“The teachers said that if they agreed, then the teachers would bring them to the police station on Nov 19 to retract the report and the money will be paid then.”
Arom had contacted Malaysiakini about this on Nov 17, from the nearest town which has telephone coverage.
Pos Bihai is a one-and-a-half-hour journey to the nearest town in Kuala Betis, which is another one-and-a-half-hour drive to Gua Musang where the police report was lodged.
Arom said the police report will not be retracted, especially since they have already consulted a lawyer to see what they can do if no action is taken.
“It is about our dignity,” he said.
Malaysiakini has since last week made several attempts to contact SK Bihai’s officials for comment at mobile telephone numbers provided by the Human Rights Commission and the district education office.
However, the telephone calls cannot get through, likely due to the remote location of the school, and text messages have been unanswered.
The listed telephone number for SK Bihai connects directly to the district education office.
The four Year Six students were slapped on Oct 23, prompting their fathers to make a three-hour journey to Gua Musang to lodge a police report.
Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong had confirmed the incident in Parliament and said that disciplinary action against the teacher is “under way”.
However, he said, it is up to the police to investigate any criminal offence which the teacher may have committed.
According to Section 17 of the Aboriginal People’s Act 1954, no Orang Asli child should be obliged to receive religious teachings, without prior consent from the parents.
Section 17(3) states that any person contravening this faces a fine not exceeding RM500.
SK Bihai is an exclusively Orang Asli school.