Two teenagers in Malaysia were arrested in connection with a viral video that showed them complaining about a secondary school history exam paper — and their frustration that questions about Singapore were included — using what police said were “abusive words”.
The boys, from Hulu Selangor, are both 18 years old. They were arrested after a teacher filed a report, Hulu Selangor district police chief Superintendent Suffian Abdullah said in a statement on Saturday.
The teacher complained about a video the two posted online that went viral that showed them “uttering abusive words as they were allegedly dissatisfied” with the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) paper.
The SPM, or the Malaysian Certificate of Education, is a national exam taken by all fifth-form secondary school students in Malaysia. It is the equivalent of the GCE O-level examinations in Singapore.
In the video, one teen could be seen swearing and making an obscene gesture while mocking questions about Singapore’s history, saying these were not relevant to Malaysians.
“To those who made this SPM history paper, what about Singapore? People don’t read about Singapore,” he could be heard saying.
“This Singapore! You think I care about Singapore? Even for water, they use Malaysia’s. Suddenly you come up with Singapore.
“And then with nationalism, the Constitution, making me tired reading about it, but it didn’t make it (in the exam),” he said.
The two teens have since apologised in a later video.
Supt Suffian said the mobile phone that was said to have been used by the two boys was confiscated.
“A screening test found that both suspects were negative for drugs in addition to having no previous criminal records,” he added.
“The case is being investigated in accordance with Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1995 and Section 233 of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act 1998,” he said.
A group of human rights lawyers condemned what it said was the heavy-handed way the two boys were treated.
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said the manner in which the two were arrested was “shocking”, as they sought an explanation from Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil and Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek.
“We are deeply concerned that the actions of the police in this case will strike a chill in parents all across the country if left unaddressed and unrebuked,” the group said in a statement.
The LFL said the police might have gone too far in raiding the boys’ home in Hulu Selangor, and then making the two take a drug test.
“This would have caused extreme trauma to them and their family, and all this over a video where they vented their frustrations on their SPM history paper,” it said.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.