Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mara ‘stupid’ to ask non-Muslims about Islam, says Sarawak minister calling it bigotry

BY DESMOND DAVIDSON
APRIL 30, 2014
A senior Sarawak cabinet minister has taken Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) to task for posing questions on Islam to non-Muslim bumiputera students applying for Mara scholarships, saying it smacked of religious bigotry.
State Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing (pic) also described Mara as “stupid” for quizzing the students on Islam during their interview for the financial assistance, and questioned the relevance of such questions.
“Don't tell me Mara, which runs several educational and technical institutions, after 51 years (of Malaysia) will claim ignorance in failing to understand the racial and religious make-up of the state.
Masing’s attack on Mara was prompted by a complaint he received from a straight “A” Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) student, Nigel Unchat Jeremaiah, who said he was asked questions on hudud, "rukun Solat" (prayers) and "adat menziarah jenazah" (visiting graves), among others, during the interview last Saturday.
“Neither would I want to believe there are religious bigots in Mara who want to deprive non-Muslim bumiputeras of the scholarships with those kind of questions,” Masing said.
Masing said the line of questioning appeared to suggest bigotry on Mara’s part.
Asking non-Muslims questions on Islam is plain wrong. What relevance anyway are these questions when applying for a higher learning scholarship?
Nigel, who was applying for the scholarship to study mechanical engineering at Kolej Mara Seremban in Negeri Sembilan, said he and the other non-Muslim students were also asked to name some Muslim prophets.
Nigel, who attended the interview at Maktab Rendah Sains Mara in Semariang outside Kuching, said out of about 30 students who went for the interview that Saturday afternoon, about 10 were non-Muslims.
He feared his failure to answers the questions could cost him the scholarship.
“I'm surprised Mara failed to understand there are many bumiputeras in Sarawak who are non-Muslims and that Muslims are a minority in the state,” Masing said after meeting Nigel and his mother, Sudan Nyanggau, at his house in Jalan Ong Tiang Swee.
“I don't like to believe they have some hidden agenda,” he said of the council which is responsible for facilitating the economic and social development of the bumiputeras, particularly in rural areas.
The council comes under the purview of the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development.
“They should not have asked non-Muslims such religious questions.
“Asking non-Muslims questions on Islam is plain wrong. What relevance anyway are these questions when applying for a higher learning scholarship?
“That boy was hoping to study mechanical engineering, not become an ustaz.
“If he was applying for a scholarship to become an ustaz, then those questions are appropriate.”
Masing, who has been vocal on the Allah issue, warned Mara not to display such bigotry in Sarawak.
He said just because Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country doesn’t mean the whole nation knows about Islamic teachings.
Nigel was hoping to follow in the footsteps of his two older siblings - one studying at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and the other at University Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).
He would only know if he is successful in obtaining a Mara scholarship when the result is out on May 8.
State Mara director, Yusof Wasli, could not be reached for comment as he was in Bintulu on official matters. His office would not give his handphone number. – April 30, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider

1 comment:

Tommy Peters said...

Safe-mode. Perhaps these ‘hungry’ students should be asked to go the whole hog as opposed to just the key players but then this vocation may prove to be addictive.

Islam was an oral tradition until it collided with the Gutenberg. Not without good reason did the Ottomans ban the press. Thing is, before the birth of the print machine, clerics manned the spigot. They decided what followers ‘needed’ to hear. The ‘outflow’ was controlled but when books were replicated, the sunnah, the Koran and ahadith were in print and available to all and sundry, curtailing the power of the spoken word.

In a similar vein, Scientology, born in the 50s, was a print tradition that guarded its secrets and kept followers in check, until it collided with the Internet. The timeline seems to indicate that its secrets spilled out after the ‘online’ exposure of its machinations accelerating the decline of its members.

Moral of the story is that when addressing redeeming points of a dogma in the public domain, be prepared to address the uncomfortable questions that spills out of the faucet. On the other hand, confining it to the private where it belongs, in a way preserves and protects it, while keeping society in ‘safe-mode.’