The teacher who allegedly slapped four Orang Asli children from SK Bihai for not reciting prayers should be charged in court for assault.

SK Bihai is an exclusively Orang Asli school located in the interior of Gua Musang, close to the Kelantan-Perak border.

NONEIt is reported today that three fathers from Pos Bihai last week made a three-hour journey to Gua Musang to lodge a police report against the teacher who had allegedly slapped their four 12-year-old daughters on Oct 23.

A teacher has no right to slap students. What happened if true, was certainly against the law. This is a very serious matter and there must be a thorough investigation into the matter.

Slapping a person is assault. It is an offence punishable under section 323 of the Penal Code which carries a punishment of imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with a fine which may extend to RM2000 or both.

In addition, in this case there may have been a violation of Section 17 of the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954 which states that no Orang Asli child should be obliged to receive religious teachings, without prior consent from the parents.

Apply laws strictly call

Section 17(3) of the Act states that any person who acts in contravention of this shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding RM500.

This is a matter of public importance. Malaysia has peoples from different religious backgrounds. We send our children to schools hoping that the school will protect them and educate them with due regard and respect for our racial and religious background.

There must be strict application of law to ensure that no person is forced to perform any religious obligation which is different to that persons religious belief.

The attorney-general must take action. As Public Prosecutor, he is duty bound to act in the interest of the public in cases like these so as to ensure that similar incidents like these do not happen again.

NONEI also call upon Rural and Regional Minister Shafie Apdal (right) to explain why he denied that the children were slapped. It would now appear that he was wrong to have jumped to such a conclusion.

As minister, he should be more careful when responding in cases like these.

He should call for a full inquiry without prejudging the issue and take the appropriate action if anyone is found to have acted unlawfully.

He should not be irresponsible and make wild statements which would have the effect of leading people to think that there would a cover up by the government in the investigations in this case.