Based on their effeminate tendencies, 66 schoolboys from the state of Terengganu in Malaysia were recently sent to a boot camp aimed at “helping them behave in a proper manner”.
The New Straits Times writes:
The four-day camp in Besut, the first-ever to be held here, started yesterday. It is to help address the problem afflicting secondary schoolboys.
“They were listed by their schools who were instructed last year to identify students who displayed feminine qualities,” said department director Razali Daud.
He said the remedial effort was prompted by the rising number of effeminate schoolboys in the state.
“The severity of the symptoms vary, but the 66 schoolboys were showing behaviours that is not usually displayed by a normal male of their age.”
In a separate article published by The Star, the country's Women, Family and Community Development Minister Sharizat Abdul Jalil says that the boot camp should be abolished:
“It is in clear violation of the Child Act,” she said, adding that under the Act, every child was entitled to protection and assistance in all circumstances, regardless of characteristics like race, language and physical, mental or emotional disabilities.
The blogoshere in Malaysia was divided over this issue. Whimsical Lair writes:
I really think there should be a clear division between morality / legality / politics / religion. Whilst the government in any nation is charged with maintaining order (hence the difficulty in distinguishing between law and politics), do they really have any right to dictate social norms and morality? Freedom of expression (whether verbal or actions) whilst to a certain extent curbed to maintain peace may be a necessary evil, does GT really think that they have a right to intrude on how I choose to walk, eat, think, like, etc?
Some Malaysians are still homophobic. Ugly Malaysiana explains:
well i dont really care if someone becoming gay or not, its not matter, really, that just left me with more chick i guess, but i still concern, but try to imagine if all of the human being becoming gay? what would happen to this world? what would you do to reproduce? tube baby? uuuhhh…yes i am homophobic, you guys not believe in god, thats what you are, gay people are disgusting, period
On Twitter, @motivationMY asked their followers what they think of the camp, here are some of the responses:
@niennessa: that will make them even more outcast than accepting. trust me it will do no good to anyone at all, such a stupid idea.
@weejunt: Singling them out like that is likely to make them more confused and probably rebel against authority
@fabiannarcis: they need friends and people to understand them, not help dude
@sherylhosulynn: I think that it is ridiculous and a form of oppression of self-expression!
After much criticism from various quarters, in his latest press statement, the program director of the boot camp Razali Daud has said:
[…] the programme was aimed at boosting the self-confidence of students who are inactive in co-curricular and sports activities, but it had been misconstrued as a boot camp for effeminate boys.”