Violence and bullying have been normalized in Malaysia.
Victims are not aware they are victims, and instead want to protect the perpetrators of violence.
Those in positions of authority who have the power to instigate change fail to show real leadership.
The story about two teenage girls who were slapped in public by their coach is a symptom of the terrible degradation in our society.
The story goes much deeper than two young girls being slapped, or a coach who admitted being overcome by emotion.
Nevertheless, we are shocked by the reaction of the parents who are probably suffering from Stockholm syndrome.
The incident is also a terrible reflection of the erosion of moral values in the Malaysian society. It is the failure of our education system. It is a failure of the parents to show responsibility when their own children have been abused by strangers.
It is the failure of the coach to abide by the strict conduct and rules of his profession. It is a failure of past Malaysian ministries to deal sternly with violence.
Previous acts of violence were tolerated or dismissed and this has only encouraged further acts of violence.
It is also a failure of the state youth development, sports and NGO executive councilor VP Shanmugam to show leadership.
After a public furor, the coach apologized to the two girls and their parents; but would he have done so if the video of him freely slapping the two girls had not become viral?
VP Shanmugam took an easy exit out of a very embarrassing and potentially explosive situation.
As the coach had apologized to the girls’ parents, Shanmugam said, “The incident was resolved on the spot on the same day.”
Shanmugam is wrong to think that it is resolved. If he were to dig deeper into the history of child abuse in Malaysia, the volleyball coach’s actions are just the tip of the iceberg.
In simple terms, the slapping incident is the failure of our society to protect our young children.
Past abuses by coaches and teachers have mostly been swept under the carpet because our authorities are fearful of the repercussions.
We need to send a message throughout the community and tell them to aim for a zero tolerance towards physical violence.
No one, not even a coach, teacher or headmaster, has the right to slap anyone else, let alone two young girls in public.
The slapping incident is the failure of our society to protect our young children.
One father’s reaction
The father of one of the two girls who were slapped defended the coach’s behavior.
Is he insane? He said that the slapping incident should not have become an issue. He urged the public to stop criticizing the coach.
He refused to get the police involved, and if he had been so inclined, would have lodged a police report on December 16, the day his daughter was slapped.
The father showed more concern about the coach’s predicament because he (the coach) had sacrificed his time, money and energy to develop the sport in Melaka.
He was full of praise for the coach who gave his daughter the chance to represent the state. He also said that his daughter did not want to press charges.
His most deplorable comment was to say, “The slap was normal and was not meant to hurt the girls…I do not see what the big deal is. There are no signs of injury on my daughter’s face. For me this is nothing. Slapping is normal.”
Does this father not realize that violence was used on his daughter? An assault cannot be masked in any other way. The coach’s excuse that he was overcome by emotion cannot be used to justify his violence. Slapping is not an accepted “motivational” tactic.
The coach is a coward and a bully, and the father is wrong to condone the coach’s violence.
The coach overstepped the boundaries and must face the full force of the law.
The young girl is a minor and the criminal offense perpetrated by the coach comes under Section 323 of the Penal Code.
If he is found guilty, he will be fined RM2,000 and face a jail term of up to one year, or both.
Physical scars are visible, but not mental scars. Would this father only be aggrieved if his daughter’s jaw was dislocated? Has he heard of mental trauma?
His daughter was humiliated in public. Her self-confidence will be affected. What if she equates violence as an accepted motivational tactic, and in later years, will use violence to motivate her own children?
A police report needs not be necessary. The sports body which regulates the conduct of coaches and governs this particular sport, would have been primed to act. If no action is taken, then they are indeed, condoning violence.
The coach’s reaction
What man hits out at young girls just because they dropped a ball or played badly?
As coach, he should understand that it is the participation in sports and sportsmanship that is more important.
He is a coward and a bully. He is supposed to set a good example but he failed. Would he have apologized if his violence had not been caught on camera?
A good coach does not need his hands, fists or legs to lash out at his players. This coach lacks discipline and deserves to be sacked.
If the coach is violent in public, does that also translate to violence at home?
Sports exco Shanmugam
Shanmugam’s attitude has been disappointing. To claim that the matter is resolved because the coach apologized to the parents is particularly shortsighted.
Is Shanmugam forgetful? Complaints by athletes and students about the lewd remarks and sexual advances of their coaches and teachers have been dismissed.
Pandelela Rinong, the Olympic gold medalist. The UM student called “Ching.” The secondary school student Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam. What became of the so-called investigations? The victims suffer in silence and their perpetrators go scot-free!
This incident has shown how we, as a society, have let ourselves down, and more importantly, we have failed our children.
The authorities must come down hard on coaches and teachers who exploit children.
- New Straits Times: ‘We have forgiven the coach’
- New Straits Times: Volleyball coach in slapping incident has apologized to players, says Melaka exco
(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)