An Open Letter

Dear readers,

This open letter is written in English not because we degenerate Bahasa Malaysia, but rather because we would want more readers to read it either local or foreigner.

I’ve read and heard lots of negative remarks been pass either towards my wife or myself with regards to the GSTT (Untrained Substitute Teacher) issue. Most shocking is that most of the negative remarks are made by women of this country. To be frank, we both are not happy and sadden with the negative reaction given by many people. But then again someone dear to me said that people will say anything as long as god willing they can talk. We are not a simpleton. Let’s clear the air out. We are not selfish and neither are we ignorant. We are most certainly not arrogant nor are we trying to make a name for our self. Some people have the nerve saying that my wife has not completed her education or rather never went to school. Mind those who think that way. The remarks made are personal and clearly those who made such remarks making statements without thinking of the implication of such statement. It is an insult to my wife and my in-laws to say such thing, as it’s like saying that my in-laws never educate their daughter or the very least never sent their daughter to school. If my wife had never completed her education, would she be selected to be appointed as GSTT in the first place? If her knowledge and skill are not savvy enough, would she passed the interview and been called up to fill the GSTT position? Please refrain yourself from making statements that are personal in nature, as you do not know us and we do not know you. A more constructive comment would be more acceptable than such personal attacks comments.

Let me briefly explain the actual events that happen that led to the retraction of offer to my wife. Before the D-day as I called it, on the 2nd January 2009, my wife went for an interview at the PPD Hulu Langat. The interview was conducted in several sessions for few days. In the interview, among the question was asked includes general knowledge; personal and education background; and scenario based questions (incidents that could happen in the school and the actions ought to be taken). None of the question asked includes health status or more specific pregnancy status. Even in the forms of application that was filled up before the interview date and prior to the interview did not request for the information.

A few days later, on the 11th January 2009, my wife received a SMS from one of the PPD Hulu Langat personnel congratulated my wife for being selected and requesting my wife to take the placement memo from the office on the 12th January 2009. My wife was jubilant receiving the news. On the 12th January 2009; the D-Day, after taking the placement memo, there was a short briefing by an officer. My wife was supposed to start work as GSTT and report for duty at Kajang High School right after the briefing. At the end of the briefing, the officer requested that anyone that is pregnant, to step forward. My wife and 2 other women step forward. Immediately the placement memo along with the offer letter was taken from them. 1 of the other 2 was already pregnant for 8 month (my wife later find out after the black incident). My wife and the other 2 was devastated, just because they are pregnant, they was denied the opportunities of being employed as the other candidates. My wife felt that she was to be blame for the pregnancy (which I also play an important role in the first place).

Imagine how humiliated and disgrace my wife and the other candidate felt. To be told to come forward as like they have committed a horrendous sin or criminal act and to be punished without just cause. We did not immediately go straight to the media. We try to plea our case to various channels and agencies. But to no avail. It was a dead end. We were the unheard voices and our concerns were taken lightly. My wife was told to calls from one department to another. All of them denying responsibility. My emails did not receive any definitive or positive answer either. We almost lose hope. Almost. We thanked to our parents from both sides that had been very understanding and supportive to us. They are the one gave us the morale spirit throughout the ordeal.

Now I would like for all of you to ponder on the questions below:
1. To those who so blindly called my wife as being selfish and ignorant, what would you do? Accept it as fate and move on. Right, most of you will say that. Even we, accept our fate as it is. But the wrong must be corrected. Otherwise it will keep on happening until the end of time.
2. Don’t you think it’s too much that these women whom are pregnant have to accept such disgrace and humiliation? To be called out like a convict criminal and being punish for their pregnancy. We are married couple and it’s our god given right to bear children and by common law there is no objection to having children under marriage.
3. Could a “man” whom had received the placement memo and offer letter, at the end of the briefing all of it is retracted due to being pregnant? NO, as only a woman could bear a child in her womb. It is god given gift meant only for women as no man could bear the pregnancy process.
4. Could a man whom had only started a family and build a career face such action for having children? NO again. As a man, they would not have to face the music of being pregnant
5. How can the government encourage the private sector to stop discrimination against women when it is happening in their own back door?
6. Now imagine, this sort of prejudice being practice in the private sector. Could the law take any action against them? NO, as being proven in the case of former MAS stewardess. Beatrice Fernandez vs. MAS. A more detail story could be read hear: http://www.wao.org.my/news/20050106masmemo.htm
7. My wife was among the few chosen and selected for the post. It also means that my wife is both qualified and suitable for the post. Why would PPD Hulu Langat retract the offer? Should a less qualified and suitable person be selected for the post? What about the quality of education given by a candidate selected to replace my wife? (I’m not trying to pass judgment or dismiss others qualification and capabilities, but I’m trying to make a point)
8. The MOE Chief Secretary had made a statement that the criteria were made for the importance of the students. MOE worries that if a GSTT teacher were to take maternity leave (unpaid by the way according to JPA General Order 17 Chapter C (Leave)), it would affect the learning and teaching process of the students. What about the permanent teacher whom are pregnant and have to take maternity leave? Will their students learning and teaching process not affected by their teacher’s absent? Why such double standards practice being implemented?
9. In General Order 17 Chapter C (Leave), a GSTT are not eligible for maternity leave. Why such discriminating order is was ever approve?
10. Under the Labor Act 1995, there is a section for Maternity Protection. However this seems to be pointless as there is a clause for void should the employer chooses not to follow it. It’s like saying a person can choose to run the red light even though the laws says it’s wrong but it also says you can choose not to follow it. Isn’t it confusing and illogical? The key word is MATERNITY PROTECTION and not ESCAPE FROM MATERNITY PROTECTION.

I could be writing pages of question for you to ponder and think about. But I believe that by now you get my point. My advices do some readings and you will find out that there is much to be deliberate. Look at this case in more general views. It is not only about the appointment of GSTT, it is about the prejudice towards women everywhere in our beloved country. I know some of you might have experience this first hand and simply keep mum about it. If none of you are willing to bring the matter forth, it is going to happen to someone else and it’s going to get worse. This sort of discrimination is happening everywhere in the government agencies and private sector.

We have tried various channels in voicing out our concern and our objection in this debacle. But to no avail. Some of my friends whom are politically active were not very supportive with our cause either. Instead I was accused of deliberately blaming everything on the BN government; I was being ungrateful to the BN government, etc. Let me make it clear again that the issue at hand is not a political in nature. It crosses all political ideology. One other organization (NUTP) that seems interested to assist us, but when contacted; my wife was told that they only assist members. The only sincere assistant we had is from Wanita PKR Chief YB Hajjah Zuraida Kamaruddin and her colleagues. We thanked them from the bottoms of our heart. We were even offered a legal counsel aid.

I would also like to comments about “beloved” leaders whom spoke so very highly of themselves. They spoke about justice and transparency above all else. They spoke about changes in the country. Well in this case I’ve not seen any.

Where are the UMNO leaders? Where is Dato’ Mokhtar Samad Division Head of UMNO Bandar Tun Razak, whom I might add, refuse to even listen to our plea for help. Instead he is more concern about his own political gain and personal interest? He was busy having a “meeting” with an UMNO General Assembly candidate along with others representative (perwakilan) from Bandar Tun Razak. It is been said that the meeting was held at his house on 31 January 2009. I have an SMS from him that neither denies nor agrees the purpose of the meeting is for their own personal gain or some say “cari makan”. If it’s true, shame on you and please resign from your post and from UMNO. UMNO do not deserve a person such as you. I would suggest that you quit from UMNO and create your own party that would suit your own needs and agenda. By the way, I’m supposed to be a member of UMNO Taman Bukit Anggerik, but due to some misunderstanding in the past, my name is not listed till now. My situation can be confirmed by my Head of Branch Taman Bukit Anggerik, Bandar Tun Razak.

Where is the so called lioness of UMNO, Dato Seri Rafidah, Wanita UMNO Chief and her deputy Dato Seri Sharizat Abdul Jalil? Are they still quarrelling about whom should be Wanita UMNO wing Chief? We’ve been called up by Wanita PKR Chief, Puan Hajjah Zuraida Kamaruddin last January 2009. To be honest we agree to the meeting with heavy hearted. We are worried that this issue will be politicizes by the party. As we believe this issue should not ever been politicizes. However during the meeting Puan Hajjah Zuraida made a statement that the issue is not a political issue. It crosses the political ideology. The statement was made prior to our confession that we are UMNO members. My wife is a member of Puteri UMNO Sungai Rawang Branch, Sepang Division. I questioned these UMNO leaders as they (or at the very least Dato Seri Rafidah) are part of the Members of Parliament of the Federal Government. They are the one that should be interested in the issue. Instead, an opposition Member of Parliament is the one whom offer assistance and show much interest in the issue.

Where is the leader whom so proudly brandishes a Keris in last UMNO General Assembly, Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussien, of the Malaysia Ministry Of Education (MOE)? Your email address is nowhere to be found. How can you be a Minister of Education when you do not even have an email for communication purposes? In this age of information technology, an email is an essential part of your communication tools either personal or business purposes. Even my sweet beloved mother has one and she is a full time house wife. Furthermore the personnel of your ministry also seem not very knowledgeable of their own ministry / department Service Circulation. They have quoted some statements from certain Service Circulation which is not true at all. Please look into this matter, maybe the personnel from the ministry should be educated first before we started to educate others.

Where is Dato Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen of the Womens, Family and Community Development Ministry (KPWKM), whom I believe should be most concern with regards to this matter? Why does Puan Noriah Kasnon, the deputy minister, made a statement in Parliament without viewing the actual facts? We request politely that you retract the statement back in Parliament. Puan Noriah Kasnon is implicating my wife of telling lies by not having an offer letter from MOE or its department. She has received the placement memo under her name from the Hulu Langat District Office of Education. A Memo is a shortening of Memorandum. It is a form of contract. Please view Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law at: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/memorandum

Where is the ever so vigilant Senator Murugiah Thopasamy, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister Office, whom is more concern about the a suspected criminal in a luxury car theft syndicate and the wellbeing of foreign workers from Bangladesh? Should you be more concern about our complaints? I believe we have more merits than a suspected criminal (no offence to any party, I’m trying to make a point) and foreign workers. We are citizen of Malaysia. We demand retribution.

Where are the leaders of Wanita MCA whom submitted a memorandum on 23 February 2009 to Dewan Rakyat Speaker, with regards to sexist remarks amongst the MPs? The Minister of (KPWKM) is a member of MCA. Shouldn’t the Wanita MCA also submit a memorandum with regards to this issue? It is clearly a discrimination against women.

This issue is not a political issue in nature. All leaders should address this issue accordingly as it is a public interest issue. It crosses political ideology, race and religion status. Consider this open letter as an outburst towards all parties whom had failed to address this issue even after we have sent countless emails to your agencies. Consider this open letter also as an answer towards all those whom so lightly pass judgments towards my wife and me without knowing the exact facts of the incident. There are more than the stories that you have heard and read. If you only see what is under the rug, you will see a whole lot more. Take some time before making such personal remarks to anyone. Do unto others as you would like others do unto you.

Sincerely,
MOHD IZWAN BIN DATO’ ZAKARIA
B.SC (HONS) COMPUTING FOR BUSINESS
UCSI / NORTHUMBRIA UNIVERSITY
PA / AVG.

One Response to “An Open Letter”

  1. wanitakeadilan Says:

    A response from Malaysiakini:
    Pregnancy society’s responsibility, not women’s burden
    Steve Oh | Mar 13, 09 4:37pm

    I refer to the letter

    Pregnant wife thrown out by education department.

    Indeed, it is appalling that in this day and age that anyone should think a pregnant woman is a liability to an employer especially a government department which has a sizeable female workforce and the government being the largest employer of women.

    The writer claims his wife is a victim of discrimination and I agree. If pregnant, permanent female staff are not penalised for getting pregnant, why should an untrained substitute teacher be subjected to such discrimination (not that I accept that any pregnant woman should be discriminated against)?

    What the public should find distasteful and unacceptable is the persecution and penalising of women for doing what I consider their foremost duty – child-bearing. People need to appreciate that this is the most important function of a woman in the survival of the human race.

    Instead of punishing women for getting pregnant we ought to be taking greater care of them and celebrating their success.

    Pregnancy should not be a woman’s burden and it should be society’s responsibility to ensure all pregnant women and new mothers are adequately cared for and this should include a respect of their rights as pregnant women. If men could get pregnant, I wonder if they will think differently?

    In a free society, companies have every right to stipulate the physical criteria of an employee for particular tasks that require certain physical attributes.

    But in today’s world where women are also found on the battlefield and in jobs where men used to dominate, there will be few occasions when this is necessary, and a woman’s pregnancy should be accepted as a positive service to society rather than one that risks discrimination and lost employment opportunities.

    I think it is high time women are treated better, especially those who are pregnant and don’t need the trauma of dealing with inconsiderate and faceless bureaucrats who seem better at passing the buck and judging pregnant women rather than caring about their welfare.

    Pregnant women can work until very near the date of delivery of their babies and many women go back to work not long after delivering their babies. In some instances, their absence from work will be no more than a couple of months or less.

    Those who breast-feed may face practical difficulties but these are not insurmountable and a caring society should give greater respect to pregnant women and appreciate the wonderful function women perform and contribute to society with child-bearing.

    I find it insulting to women when they are pregnant and are discriminated against.

    Modern society often requires both parents to work. While it is desirable that at least one parent stays home to take care of a pre-schooler, some parents may find their financial situation necessary for both of them to work. If anything, I think companies should be providing creches for employees that need those services.

    Let’s hope the education department will improve its attitude and change its policy towards the hiring of pregnant women. In this particular case, the writer’s wife and others in the same predicament have been innocent victims of a bureaucracy that has bungled and now passes the buck without consideration of the victims’ welfare. It is shameful what they had to go through.

    The writer has gone to great lengths to seek redress and publicise his wife’s plight and I commend him for taking the trouble. How many victims of bureaucratic bungling have suffered in silence we’ll never know.

    Our pregnant women deserve better. The law should be changed to make it illegal to discriminate against a pregnant woman.


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