No perfect way to raise a child and the debate rages on whether to cane or not to cane. 

CAN a secondary school teacher cane a student for allegedly calling him “Ah qua lao shi” (ladyboy teacher)?

There is much debate on this issue after a two-minute and twenty-eight-second video, showing a teacher being scolded by a woman for caning a schoolgirl in Johor, went viral on social media and WhatsApp on Monday.

I wouldn’t want any teacher to cane my kids as I don’t believe that corporal punishment works. Plus, I don’t even cane Apsara, 11, and Sylverius Junior, six, so who gives anyone the right to whack them?

My wife has a different take on this – a teacher can cane her kids but within limits.

Vera gave her experience to back her stand. She was caned in secondary school because her handwriting was terrible.

“I scribbled my name on the exam paper because I hated geography and the teacher,” she said.

Her geography teacher, who was also the disciplinary teacher, caned her thrice on her leg.

“After that, I never disrespected the subject,” she said, adding that she still hates geo­graphy.

I’m against caning by parents or teachers or dominatrixes, as I have been on the recei­ving end of a rotan and ruler (but not a whip or paddle as I’m not into S&M).

In primary school, and to a lesser extent in secondary school, I got caned by teachers quite regularly. Since it happened a long time ago, I don’t remember the reason.

Was it because I couldn’t memorise the multiplication table? If indeed, then the caning did not help as I still don’t know what 9 x 7 is.

On Wednesday, I posted a message on the Stella Maris’ Class of 1979 WhatsApp group asking my former primary schoolmates in Kota Kinabalu why I got caned.

“Nakal (naughty) and jajal (a Sabahan word for being more than nakal),” they told me. It brought back the memory of when I extended my hand for the teacher to whack with a ruler and the moment it was about to hit my palm, I would withdraw it. That is a natural reflex when a movable object is about to collide with an unstoppable force.

It only made the teacher angrier. And I got whacked harder.

Did I learn – like my wife learned to not disrespect Geography? I don’t think so.

It only made me worse. Caning is counterproductive for jajal like me.

Curious to know what my former schoolmates thought of caning, I asked for their views.

Rose Ho Tahee Ambun supports caning pro­­vided that it followed procedure. She also caned her three kids when they were younger.

“But before I caned him, I would explain why he was being canned. There would be a debate between us, but at least I know how he feels and he knows I’m serious. I need to show my kids who is in charge,” she said.

While Zamri Hussin supports teachers caning students, he disagrees with the teacher’s action in the Johor incident.

“Students must respect their teachers. Educating our kids to respect them starts at home,” he said.

The discussion on caning opened an unforgotten file in my memory. When I was in Form Two at La Salle Secondary School in Tanjung Aru near Kota Kinabalu, a teacher – out of anger – slapped me. I forgot the reason, probably because I was jajal.

I did not tell my parents about the incident. If I did, dad would have probably slapped me harder for getting slapped by a teacher.

My late dad believed in corporal punishment. I think he only did it to his only son and not to his four daughters. In that way, my dad was “sexist”; he should have caned all of his kids regardless of gender.

Before dad whacked me, he would say, “This hurts me more.” And I felt like saying, “Why don’t you then give me the rotan and I’ll rotan you less painfully.”

Good thing I didn’t blurt it out as he would have whacked me harder.

My dad was a strict disciplinarian, but I don’t think being strict worked with special cases like me. It would have been better to reason with me.

I’ll give an example.

When I gave him my report card full with red marks, it was a terrifying experience. I would get caned for bad results.

I thought of an ingenious plan to avoid being caned by my father. I got my classmate, Stanley, to forge my dad’s signature in the report card.

He did a lousy job and I ended up being caned by dad for it.

In my defence, if my dad had reasoned with me and not put the fear of the rod in me, I probably would not have thought of the forgery idea.

I believe in the carrot and not the stick. If I wanted to motivate my kid to do better in school, I’d promise them a reward (a trip to Legoland Johor or a Nintendo Switch).

Anyway, there’s no one perfect way to raise a kid. If you think caning is right, go ahead cane your kid but not mine.