A primary school was today criticised by a celebrity over its decision to typecast the country’s ethnicities in a moral examination question.
In a post on the Instagram photo-sharing service, actress Sarah Lian shared a picture of a moral test paper apparently from a national school in Petaling Jaya that asked students to associate names to different houses of worship.
The names were Devi, Hock Lee, Kamal, and Steve. Students were required to write the appropriate name under pictures of a church, a Hindu temple, a Chinese temple, and a mosque.
In the photograph, the student — a daughter of Lian’s friend — linked Devi to the church, Steve to the Hindu temple, Kamal to the Chinese temple, and Hock Lee to the mosque.
The examiner marked all four answers as wrong.
“My friend’s 7yr old daughter apparently scored badly. And you wonder who makes kids racist and stereotypical???
“Well, here’s your answer! A horrible approach to stereotyping people into names races and religions. I’m so furious at this form of racism. How archaic and racist! This is so sad! #shame,” Lian wrote on her Instagram post.
Malaysian naming conventions, particularly the patronymic system used for Malay names, are regularly used to infer a person’s religious identity.
Such assumptions have led to problems, particularly in East Malaysia, where non-Muslim natives who use “bin” and “binti” are sometimes wrongly documented as Muslims by authorities.