Kuala Lumpur – The Education Ministry should review Shalwati Norshal’s eligibility to re-enter the teaching profession now that she has a criminal record for child abuse in Sweden, an academic and parent group said.
National Professors Council (MPN) member Professor Datuk Abdul Halim Sidek said this is in accordance with the Rules for Public Workers (conduct and discipline) (1993), the code of conduct for federal civil servants.
“By right, if any civil servant is found to be guilty of a crime, then the authorities must suspend their service… and the rules are clear under the ministry.
“Unless there are genuine considerable circumstances,” he told the Malay Mail Online.
Abdul Halim said that Putrajaya’s disciplinary board must convene a procedural meeting to discuss Shalwati’s eligibility before the mother of four resumes her job as an educator.
“My concern is this. Are we going to give her a let off or are we going to enforce the law against her and her husband? If not, this is would seem as if there are double standards. Where is justice?” he asked.
Abdul Halim pointed out that the Swedish judiciary, when sentencing Shalwati and her husband, also a civil servant, to jail for child abuse earlier this year, had done so in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), in which Malaysia is also signatory.
“Therefore, we must also abide by it in the interest of the students,” he said.
On March 29, Shalwati and her Tourism Malaysia officer husband Azizul Raheem were sentenced by a Swedish court to imprisonment for hitting their four children during their stay in the country from September 2010.
Azizul was released on July 9 after a three-month jail sentence in Sweden. Shalwati, a teacher on unpaid leave, was sentenced to 14 months’ jail.
The couple’s sentences were reduced, however, and both were ordered to serve out a mere one-third of their jail terms.
Shalwati, who was freed from the Hinseberg Prison in Frovi, Sweden, arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Wednesday.
Bernama reported Shalwati as saying that she was looking forward to begin teaching again, this time at Sekolah Seri Puteri in Cyberjaya.
Upon her return, the mother of four told Malay daily Kosmo that she does not regret hitting her children as she had merely done so to educate them.
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim also echoed Abdul Halim’s sentiment, and advised the ministry to reconsider Shalwati’s application before allowing her back into the teaching field.
“There must be some proper process of reconsideration in her case and not be given an automatic admission,” she told Malay Mail Online.
Noor Azimah said, however, that although Shalwati’s past actions were unacceptable, she should not be entirely shunned from resuming her duties as an educator.
“Do what should be done under the regulations first. Of course she need not be punished anymore, but necessary steps need to be taken to confirm that she is able to teach,” Noor Azimah said.
National Union of the Teaching Profession Malaysia (NUTP) president Hashim Adnan however, disagreed with the call to review Shalwati’s eligibility.
Stepping up to the woman’s defence, Hashim said that would be unfair to judge Shalwati as though she “bludgeoned someone to death”.
“She only tried to educate her kids in a country which has laws prohibiting beating one’s children.
“She was in a wrong place, at a wrong time and this could have happened to anyone of us,” Hashim said when contacted.
He also called for all parties to allow Shalwati to be given a second chance to live in the community.
“We should be moderate in this matter.
“We must also remember that we are Asians and our culture is different. It is something that the westerners do not subscribe to, and I mean the way in which we educate our children.
“I am sure many parents do cane their children to discipline them. Not to abuse of course, but to merely teach them and Shalwati is no different. She is also a parent who wants the best for her children,” he added. – Malay Mail