I'll get to the point -- their schools have identified them as boys who are effeminate. I suppose based on the way they behave, talk and walk.
Then these schools sent their names to the state education department which is holding a four-day camp for these kids.
The NST carried a blurb "Boot Camp For Sissies". And got blasted by some people for using the word "sissies" which showed the newspaper to be so bigoted, so prejudiced, so so bad. People were livid.
Of course, the NST, meant no disrespect. "Sissy" by (conventional) definition refers to an effeminate boy or man, but the term now has, apparently, taken on a derogatory meaning.
But it is not NST that is making a judgment of the boys. The newspaper was using this one word to mean "boys who are effeminate" as stated by Terengganu education department director Razali Daud.
Is there another term that is socially and politically acceptable? Still means the same.
Nevertheless, the S word offended people - for that NST apologizes. It was unintentional.
Would another word make a difference to what the state education department is doing? To the obvious prejudices some people have for these kids?
That is the ISSUE.
Ok. Back to the boot camp for "these boys who display effeminate behaviour" -- I gather these kids (66 of them) aged between 13 and 17 have got their parents' permission to attend this remedial camp.
Razali did not offer details on the programme but I'm guessing that it aims at making "men" out of these boys..
And if they're all Muslims, I'm guessing that the programme will have religious input to make them "insaf".
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Sisters In Islam, in strongly-worded statements issued separately yesterday, said the department's action was in violation of laws.
Shahrizat said: "The boot camps must be abolished on the basis that they are harmful and do not serve the best interest of the child, and are therefore in clear violation of the Child Act 2001, which stated that "every child is entitled to protection and assistance in all circumstances without regard to distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, social origin or physical, mental or emotional disabilities or any other status".
SIS said the department's policy to regulate the behaviour of students is against the basic tenants of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which Malaysia ratified in 1995.
"The act of identifying and singling out boys who behave effeminately is highly discriminatory bordering on predatory. Article 2 of the CRC dictates that ALL children should be accorded equal rights and treatment without exception, the Education Department of Besut is clearly in violation of this."
Obviously, to the Terengganu Education Department, these boys are a problem. The "fact" there are many of them makes it a serious problem. So if it takes a "remedial" camp to make these boys "stronger, physically and mentally", then off a-camping they go to make them so.
Simply put, these boys are being rehabilitated. In the eyes of the department, boys must be boys. Boys who don't behave like boys, are flawed in character and this is not natural.
So the department feels that it is their responsibility to right what is wrong.
And so the boot camp is part of the solution.