Monday, July 19, 2010

Religious Tolerance In Malaysia ?

This is a news article taken from a Malaysia online news portal, The Malaysian Insider in response to a news report published in another newspaper.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr. Wee Ka Siong passed the buck to the Klang High School administration today, claiming that it had misinterpreted a 10-year old education circular on formations of non-Muslim societies. He was responding to a newspaper report that the school had ordered the closure of non-Muslim societies.

Wee said that the education circular which was set up in December 16, 2000 by the Director-General of Education stated that schools which have already set up non-Muslim societies prior to the creation of the circular need not obtain permission from the state education department.

The Deputy Education Minister said that schools which formed the non-Muslim societies after the circular had been enforced needed to obtain permission from the state education department.

“On December 16, 2000, a circular was issued by the DG of education for schools that already have this set up of Buddhist society, Christian societies… they can continue this practice, for them they need not ask for permission.

“At the same time, schools that formed the non-muslim societies after the circular was issued, need to get clearance from state education department,” said Wee.

Wee told The Malaysian Insider that he had already spoken to the state education director as well as the D-G about the matter, and the school’s non-Muslims societies are now free to operate under normal high school guidelines.

“I have spoken to the director-general of education, as well as the state education director. It is a misinterpretation. It’s a non-issue.

“The problem here is this school’s administration is perhaps too new, they went and asked permission from the state education department just to see whether they had approval or not.

“The school administration has already been notified. We have asked the state education director to rectify the situation immediately,” said Wee.

The MCA Youth Chief stressed that Klang High School need not seek permission from the Selangor education department because it was “not a new school.”

“The guidelines are clear. For schools which already have non-Muslim societies prior to the circular, it should just stick with the status quo.
“This particular school has been there for 40-50 years. Unless it’s a new school, you do not have to list down the societies,” explained Wee.

However, the Deputy Education Minister declined to provide an explanation on why schools which were registered after the year 2000 had to list non-Muslim societies.

“There is some contention, there is some issue, but I cannot tell you now lah,” Wee told The Malaysian Insider.

The Sun reported yesterday that non-Muslims societies at the Klang High School had been ordered to be dissolved by the school administration.

According to the report, the school’s Kelab Agama Hindu, Kelab Agama Buddha and the Christian Union were dissolved two weeks ago.

The union had been in existence since 1969.


The above issue wasn't a serious one , it was just an isolated 'mis-intrepration' ( not ruling out it was done intentionally ) of a government policy but what irk many non-Muslims is that 'why even the need of this policy ?' ( refer to the paragraph in bold ). Incident like the above might be isolated but other racist acts and utter of racist remarks are common in fully government schools throughout Malaysia.

Malaysia is always perceived as a progressing and an ideal multi-racial country but in reality it is not as 'nice' as it should be. Race and religoin are two very sensitive topics in Malaysia. In recent years, race and religious tolerance is being slowly being eroded in Malaysia, no thanks to various discriminative and government policies.

A few recent incidents can attest to this.

Last year, the government banned the use of the word "Allah" in Christian bibles and publications eventhough it is a known fact that the word "Allah" is a general term for "God" and has been used in the Muslim middle east for ages. The real native people of Malaysia are mostly Christians and they use bible which is written in the Malay language. This controversy is still not solved and it has led to the burning of several churches in the country earlier this year. Some states even banned the used of several terms by non-Muslims such as the Muslim greetings of ' asalamu....... '.

Last year too, a group of angry Muslims carried a cow's head in protest of the building of a hindu temple near their houses ( actually not that near ). This was meant to offend and to desecrate the Hindus because cows are very sacred in Hinduism.
. In the same year, two Muslims from a Muslim magazine disguised as Catholics to participate in a church ceremony to investigate the rumors of a group of Muslims also attending the church. It turned out to be just rumors. These Muslims left the church after committing a desecrating act. A police report was lodged by offended Christians but eventually the case was deemed solved after a lame apology from the magazine. Read more on this here

In a race/religious controversies, the government always take a stance in favour of the Malay Muslims fearing that anything than that would caused them to lose the support of the majority Malay Muslims.

In comparison with Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, Indonesia is moving forward after the 1990s race riot but Malaysia is taking a few steps backward. From my personal experience, Indonesians identify themselves as Indonesian first above their race/religion but in contrast, race/religion come above everything else.

2 comments:

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