Students who called Malay classmate 'stupid' and 'ugly' will be disciplined, MOE says after bullying case goes viral
Birthdays should be joyous occasions (even if it's a school day). But one 11-year-old had her special day ruined when several classmates gave her a scathing note calling her "stupid" and "ugly".
The students involved will be disciplined, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said on March 10 after a Twitter thread by the victim's older sister went viral, prompting netizens to call for action to be taken.
The bullying incident at Mee Toh School first came to light when the victim's sister took to Twitter to express her frustration at the situation on March 6.
She wrote: "My heart broke today, it was my sister's birthday yesterday and one of her classmates threw this to her face as 'birthday present' [sic]."
The tweet was accompanied by pictures of a note addressed to her sister.
In the note, the bullies called her sister "stupid and dump [sic]" and told her she looked "so ugly".
This was not the first time her sister had been bullied, she added.
In a text exchange, the girl revealed that the bullies had also likened her to a dustbin.
The bullies had previously vandalised the Primary 5 student's uniform with markers, called her names, and abused her online.
Her sister, one of the "handful" of Malay students in the school, had also been subjected to racist comments, she said.
Her sister even resorted to eating her lunch in the toilet so that she could "eat and cry at the same time".
She had made several attempts to flag the issue up to the school, as well as MOE, but to no avail, she said.
"I've emailed the school, turned up for her parent-teacher conference to confront her teachers about this, I've emailed MOE too. But what have they done? Nothing."
To add salt to her wounds, her sister was previously made to apologise to the bullies after she scolded them in an attempt to stand up for herself.
A teacher also allegedly told the girl's mother that she would not be able to switch classes and suggested that she transfer to a different school instead.
The Twitter thread sparked outraged responses from many Singaporeans, including actor Hossan Leong.
In response to the backlash, a MOE spokesperson told reporters that they had investigated the incident and found that several students "wrote unkind notes" to the victim. The students involved will be disciplined.
Mee Toh School's principal, Wang-Tan Sun Sun, told reporters on March 10 that the school met with the victim's mother and has "provided support" to the student.
"The school does not condone bullying of any form, including racist remarks made at any individual, " she said.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung also took to Facebook the same day to express his dismay at the case, writing: "It does not matter whether the students might have done it out of mischief or that they are only Primary 5 students; the fact is that the victim felt that it was a racist act, and that makes it even more unacceptable."
However, a number of commenters on Ong's post were unimpressed with the action taken, pointing out that more should be done to stamp out bullying in general.