How A Teen In A Baju Kurung Won The Attention Of Malaysians And Our Deputy Prime Minister

It's a good thing to be proud of our cultural diversity.

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The Malaysian school uniform has become an overnight sensation

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"What? Why?"

Yesterday, local news portals have been hot on the heels of the story of a Form 3 student who was not allowed to enter a class in Cheras because she was wearing a baju kurung uniform

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An allegation has surfaced that a public secondary school in Cheras near here has barred a new Form 3 student from entering class as she was wearing a baju kurung which the school claimed was against the dress code. The student’s father, Lawrence Jayaraj, alleged that he was told by the school that only Malay Muslim students were allowed to wear baju kurung while non-Muslim and non-Malay students could not.

Lawrence Jayaraj, the father of a Form 3 student atending a Cheras school, was schocked that his daughter was told that only Malay-Muslim students at the school were allowed to wear the baju kurung - and was barred from attending classes when she turned up in one.

Britney Nicole, the student, had recently transferred to this new school. "I was wearing baju kurung in my previous school, so I don't know what is wrong".

For Britney Nicole, her excitement about going to a new school this year quickly turned into a nightmare when she was barred yesterday from attending SMK Seri Mutiara in Cheras because she wore a baju kurung uniform. The Form Three student is puzzled over the ruling and is now scared of returning to school.“I was wearing baju kurung in my previous school, so I don’t know what is wrong,” Nicole told Malay Mail yesterday.

Britney is of Lun Bawang descent, a native tribe of Sarawak. However, the authorities stated that only Malays can wear the baju kurung uniform.

A picture of a group of the Lun Bawang tribe.

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She said it started on the first day of school when she and her aunt went the school and was asked by the senior assistant if she was Malay or Chinese. Avoiding the explanation that she is ethnically Lun Bawang, she gave the simplified answer she was Sarawakian. It was then that her aunt and guardian, Agnes Padan, 35, said Britney was then told if she was not Malay, she would have to wear a pinafore instead.

“She said it was the rule in this particular school, where Malay girls wore baju kurung while non-Malay girls wore pinafores,” Padan said. “She has been wearing baju kurung since she was in Form One. She has worn pinafores before but this year, we only bought baju kurung.”

"Is this an official ruling by the school? Or is this a directive by the government? There was no issue when I was in school".

Well, the Deputy Prime Minister has come out and cleared the air about this issue. He stated that this is not a directive and the school was not right in issuing a rule like this.

There has been no directive by the Education Ministry to stop non-Muslims students from wearing baju kurung to school said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin said on Thursday that the regulation was probably issued by the school itself and added that the ruling was not right. "We will speak to the school authorities and correct this ruling so that it is in accordance to the regulations set by the ministry," he said. Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said that schools should not set their own regulations as they wished.

"What are Malaysians saying about this?"

Reactions are mostly in shock at the ruling. Here are a few we pulled from Twitter. Personalities such as Adibah Noor and Liyana Fizi expressed shock at the ruling.

Some commented that schools should be a place where relationships are to be fostered between people of different backgrounds, not the other way around

Image via Rakyat Post
Image via Rakyat Post

One even complimented saying that girls wearing baju kurung uniforms are quite attractive

But there are always two sides to the story. Some gave plausible reasons why the girl might be banned from class, suggesting that she may not have worn the attire properly.

But it looks like things have settled down. According to the teen's father, the school has apologised and Britney will be allowed to go to school in a baju kurung

After a father’s Facebook posting went viral yesterday on a school not allowing his daughter to attend classes because she was a non-Muslim wearing a baju kurung uniform, two district education officers paid a visit to the school today. When contacted by The Rakyat Post today, the father, Lawrence Jayaraj,confirmed that the school’s principal and head of the Parent-Teacher Association (PIBG) had apologised and would set the record straight. “My daughter, Britney, will be in baju kurung tomorrow and will go to school,” Jayaraj said.

What do you think? Have you experienced something of similar effect? Leave us a comment or let us know on Facebook or Twitter

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