On Wednesday, with some fanfare, the much-hyped - and certainly ambitious - new education blueprint was unveiled. Quite a bit has so far been written and said about it and there will be opportunity here soon enough to comment on this report.

But, what's more revealing is that a day later, on Thursday, Sept 13, the ministry entrusted with making this plan a reality, and a successful one at that, the Education Ministry, illustrated to many why this plan will more likely end up, as with other previous plans, in the dustbin of history.

NONEIt was reported initially by the Chinese print media and later by a couple of news portals that, on Thursday, the ministry - I’m sure after having spent days, even months, with their panel of ‘experts’ - came up with ‘a list of identifiable gay and lesbian traits’ for ‘schools and parents to prevent the spread of the phenomenon among teenagers’.

Remember, please remember, that this is reportedly coming from our Education Ministry. Yes, the same ministry entrusted with designing the structure and curriculum for the education of our children for more than ten years of their growing years.

Yes, to belabour the point, the very same ministry that’s going to be at the forefront of implementing this 13-year (2012-2025) new education blueprint that’s supposed to turn our kids into world-beaters.

Unless, of course, going by their latest comments, our kids are gays and lesbians.

NONEBut if they are - or, have the ‘potential’ to be - and ‘we’ are not sure, thanks to the ministry, we are now armed with a list that helps to ‘identify’ the symptoms or traits of these two, shall we say, ‘naughty’ groups.

And if you don’t know by now, for gays, their ‘muscular bodies’, ‘v-neck and sleeveless clothes’, ‘tight and light-coloured clothing’, ‘large handbags’ are apparently clear, tell-tale signs.

And lesbians, apparently are ‘attracted to women, like to eat, sleep, hang out in the company of other women and have no affection for men’.

Of course it’s easy enough to rubbish all this stupidity, as many have on the net, using social media.

But I’m quite certain just rubbishing isn’t enough because the stupidity is so deeply entrenched and evidently widespread among these people currently holding the reins of authority, further aggravated by the sheer bigotry of these people.

Indeed, by now, reports of this latest caper by the ministry have spread far and wide with, among others, Reuterscommenting on, if not ridiculing, it. 

The way the news has spread and the comments, criticisms  and wisecracks that it has generated is reminiscent of the time in January 2010 when Rais Yatim made those rather inane comments about Facebook and Twitter, and the storm of objections and  insults that followed, especially on Twitter.

Despite all that, however, almost three years on, Rais is still a minister, presumably unrepentant, and still coming up with more such comments.

Refusing to be accountable

The point is, despite valid and widespread criticisms and counter-arguments, oftentimes they are like water off a duck’s back and these buffoons just carry on, refusing to be accountable for their words and deeds.

Indeed, there is no shame, no sense of honour and integrity.

These latest assertions are devoid of any scientific or medical basis, (mis)informed  by the guidelines of two dodgy-sounding outfits, Yayasan Guru Malaysia Bhd and Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parents and Teachers Associations.

And appallingly and shamefully, coming as they do from the ministry, they indicate  that very little research and clear thinking is taking place in this ministry.

A ministry that really should be right up there developing and promoting education policies and strategies that will help us all to truly understand and appreciate each other.

But instead is spinning hatred against fellow human beings.

NONESome months ago, in response to the homophobic attacks against Seksualiti Merdeka, I wrote a commentary in the East Malaysian Borneo Post(Nov 6, 2011). In the light of this latest attack - and the possible fearful impact this ministry ‘list’ may have on our children, I would like to repeat a few lines here.

‘Suddenly, all manner of accusations have been hurled at this small community, by politicians, religious groups and, not surprisingly, right-wing fascists, like the members of Perkasa. 

'All evidently united by their homophobia, their unyielding belief that behaviour that is non-heterosexual is not only ‘deviant’ but also abhorrent and should be condemned.

'This larger majority fails - or worse, refuses - to understand that the members of this community often face social, emotional, legal and even political problems because of their gender identity and sexual orientation, labelled by the hardliners as “deviant”.  

'By acting in this high-handed manner, the majority refuses to recognise the very real possibility that it is their very actions that lead to the isolation, alienation and despair faced by this marginalised community of Malaysian brothers and sisters. 

'They are so marginalised and relatively minute in numbers that I find it inconceivable that they should pose any danger or threat to the wider Malaysian public.

'All this is, thus, sad and doesn’t say much about us as a people. We boast about being a caring society, as stipulated in the challenges of Wawasan 2020, yet do not wish to know about this small community, let alone engage with them.'

Imagine, then, if you will, children being bullied and harassed in school by other children, their teachers and other ‘officials’ simply because moronic ‘lists’ are made available to these menurut perintah individuals ‘identifying’ these children as having particular ‘symptoms’.

Think of the immeasurable harm, physical and, more so, mental, that all this stupid, misinformed profiling is going to cause our kids.

Yes, our kids.

Education is supposed to liberate our minds and to empower us, to enable us to make improvements to the societies, indeed the whole world, that we live in.

This latest shameful exercise by the ministry has absolutely nothing to do with education. It has the very real potential to cultivate more misunderstanding, more confusion, more hatred.
For all that, for all its sheer stupidity, yes, it should be ridiculed, it should be parodied.

But more than that, for the immense harm it will cause to our kids and, indeed, to all of us, this move, these ‘lists’, should be condemned.

ROM NAIN is a media analyst and academic who is weary of incompetent, unethical leaders and their apologists and spin doctors in the media who try to get away with murder while professing to rub shoulders with God's angels.