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Confessions of a ‘bodoh sombong’ parent

  • With due respect to the young minister, we know our responsibility to our children. We, the parents, are proudly ‘bodoh sombong’ about that.

By Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi

Recently our young minister Syed Sadiq took a swipe at the group against Khat teaching and called this group ‘bodoh sombong’ because the group threatened to campaign to parents to not send their children on the days when Jawi is taught in Bahasa Malaysia.

The young minister had accused the group as not doing justice to their children for denying them of education. Aside from the danger of being called ‘rude’, the minister’s labelling of the Sekat group may be considered racist if the group is mostly of non-Malay membership.

As a parent who has raised five children, I would like to confess that I have acted personally to disallow my children to attend schools on various occasions. The perogative is mine as I am responsible for my children at the end of the day.

On one occasion, I remember disallowing my children to participate in the cross country event of the school. My reasoning then was that the schools do not understand the changing times of urbanization. With more urbanization, the heat island effect increases as more trees are felled and more paved areas are built. As an academic trained in architecture my senses are sensitive to many changes in environment and people’s rituals in spaces. I do not want my children to suffer from heat stroke.

On another occasion, I have refused to allow my children to attend camping or outdoor events in which, upon inspection, I found the places to be unsafe for my children. I also hate signing the stupid letters that says ‘sekolah tidak akan bertanggungjawab tentang perkara-perkara buruk yang berlaku’. I despise those types of letters that saw many primary school children died crossing a river in one state once upon a time.

Yet another incident, I had informed, not asked, the permission of a private school that my son was attending that I was going to bar him from school for 5 weeks. My son was not doing well in Mathematics and Bahasa Melayu and his teachers have been doing the same dumb methods of rote learning. I took some time off from work and taught him myself for 5 weeks until he graduated with a B in both subjects.

I must also confess that I would also write ‘fake letters’ of excuses so that my daughters can follow me to some of the public talks that I have to give. I reasoned that my daughters who had come of age in Form 5 must start thinking of the country and following me to forums and talks where I was the invited guest would provide them different perspectives of issues than the ones given by the school.

The most important ‘bodoh sombong’ thing I ever did was to charge into the PLKN camp and took out my daughter who was sick against the permission of the camp commandant.

What happened was when I visited my eldest child at PLKN or National Service she was coughing and I asked whether she was shown to a doctor. She said the ‘medical officer’ of the camp(who was actually a clerk) just gave her Panadol. When I next visited her after a week, she was coughing worse and I asked permission to take her to a real doctor. The camp attendant said that I had to ask the Commandant and that the Commandant was not available that day. I told the camp attendant that I was going to take my daughter home for a week and will only return her after or if she gets better. I also told the camp’s officer in charge that the police can come and pick me up at my house if I have violated any laws.

I understood one thing and one thing only. My children’s health is my first responsibility as a parent and no rule on earth will make me think differently. I think only those with children would understand that.

With due respect to the young minister, we know our responsibility to our children. In all the time that I had disallowed my children from going to school, not once did I ever complain about the school’s shortsightedness or weakness. Our children is our responsibility. We, the parents, are proudly ‘bodoh sombong’ about that.

(Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor at UCSI University.)

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