The Education Ministry is in the final stages of setting up an independent committee to look into existing procedures that addressed complaints on the practice of period spot checks in schools and other related matters.
Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said the recommendations of the committee would be used to improve existing complaint mechanisms.
"This matter is being looked at by the ministry," Radzi said in response to a question from Malaysiakini on the progress of a ministry probe on reported incidents of period spot checks in schools, including some that dated back to 20 years ago.
"We are in the final process to set up a committee to look into the matters raised, not only this matter but also related matters.
"There will be a more comprehensive procedure in this context to allow us, if such complaints were to arise in future, address it in a more planned manner," Radzi said at a virtual press conference today.
An aide to Radzi later clarified that all complaints received so far were investigated based on existing mechanisms.
"This committee is to suggest improvements as mentioned (by Radzi)," said the aide, adding that the same goes for the progress of investigations based on the names of schools provided to the ministry.
"As soon as we received the email, it has been forwarded according to the complaints management process for an investigation to be conducted," he added.
Malaysiakini had in late April submitted the names of 15 schools where female students were allegedly subjected to period spot checks to prove that they are menstruating.
The measures included showing their blood-soaked sanitary pads, doing swabs of their vagina with either cotton buds, tissues, or their fingers, or having a teacher, warden, or school prefect pat them down at the groin to feel whether they are wearing a sanitary pad.
A copy of the list was also sent to Radzi's deputies, Muslimin Yahaya and Dr Mah Hang Soon, as well as the ministry's secretary-general and Corporate Communications Department.
The list was sent along with other details, such as the dates of alleged offences (most of which dated from 2011 to 2018) and the wardens or teachers who were named by the students.
The names of the alleged victims were not submitted.
Of the 15 schools submitted to the ministry, six are from Selangor, three from Johor, two from Terengganu, two from Kuala Lumpur and one each from Kedah and Pahang.
This follows Radzi's initial statement that his ministry's investigations, in response to public uproar and reported complaints, had at the time found no indication of such practise in schools.
Former ministers Rafidah Aziz, Azalina Othman Said and Maszlee Malik were among those who voiced their opposition to the practice, with Rafidah demanding that the Education Ministry put a stop to it and lay out clear ground rules on how schools, including boarding schools, treat students.