Friday, February 6, 2015

Parents want end to religious ban in Sarawak Mara junior colleges

BY DESMOND DAVIDSON

The extract of the rules governing non-Muslims in the MRSM Betong guidelines.  – February 6, 2015.


The extract of the rules governing non-Muslims in the MRSM Betong guidelines. – February 6, 2015.




















Dayak parents in Sarawak are questioning the ban on all non-Islamic religious activities at Mara junior science colleges (MRSM) in the state when almost half the students enrolled at these institutions are Christians.
The parents said the curbs on other religions at the MRSM colleges amounted to religious discrimination and only served to breed intolerance and lack of respect for others’ beliefs among the students.
One parent who decided not to send his daughter to study in the MRSM college after coming across the rules on non-Islamic activities, posted the rules on Facebook and reignited the issue of the ban which was a hot topic last October after a former principal of the MRSM college in Betong denied such a ban when it was raised by a local DAP grassroots leader, Leon Jimat Donald.
Gima Duin had wanted his daughter who sat for the PMR exam last year, to continue her studies in MRSM Kota Samarahan due to the college's emphasis on science and mathematics.
“After the exam (last year), I had applied for her to study in MRSM, which was my first choice, or Kolej Science (in Kuching).
“Kolej Science's acceptance letter came first so I placed her there thinking I was not successful with MRSM.
“When the MRSM application was also approved, I then planned to get my daughter transferred there.
“However, prior to registering herself, she was asked to read all the rules and regulation of the college. As her father, I took interest,” said Gima, a former airforce serviceman from Simunjan.
“When I came across the pertaruhan tambahan untuk pelajar bukan Islam (additional rules for non-Muslim students), I told myself this was not right.”
It was then that Gima decided to post the rule on his Facebook page “to see what happens”.
The “additional rules” state that all religious activities, with the exception of Islamic religious activities, are totally prohibited within the college campus.
All religious symbols, other than that of Islam, are also totally prohibited from being displayed in the college and attendance of non-Islamic religious activities outside the college campus on weekends require permission.
“When I read these rules, I made up my mind that my daughter is not going to study in a college that won't allow her to wear her cross or needs permission to attend church on Sundays.
“This is religious discrimination and a college that has no regard for other religious beliefs.
“These rules are not teaching our children tolerance and to respect the beliefs of others. I am not raising my children in that way,” said Gima.
“I fear that if I had placed her there, her young mind will be corrupted by unscrupulous individuals with malicious agenda.”
Gima also questioned why Mara did not amend their rules to cater for colleges in non-Muslim majority areas.
“I can understand it if the college is in Muslim majority areas. But in Dayak areas?”
In last October’s incident, former MRSM Betong college principal Zabidin Bedut had denied that MRSM banned Christian students from bringing the Bibles into the college as well as religious activities other than Islamic.
Zabidin was also quoted by The Borneo Post as telling parents and the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Amar Douglas Uggah Embas at the college’s graduation and awards ceremony, that “there is no truth to these allegations” raised by Leon.
“In fact, we not only allow but encourage all students to practise their own faiths. We even allow Christian students to use the college bus to go to church on Sundays,” he was quoted saying by The Borneo Post.
Betong, about 300km from Kuching, is an area in the Dayak heartland and the college was primarily to cater for promising Dayak children.
The Betong college's current principal Mohamad Zaki Abdul Rashid when contacted confirmed there is a ban and said the rule had been there “for several years”.
However, Zaki refused further comment and said any queries on the matter should be directed to the Mara headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
Leon had late last year claimed that some parents had told him of efforts by MRSM Betong to “subtly Islamise” their children through rules and regulations.
The DAP Sarawak vice-chairman had also claimed some Muslim teachers had “to some extent over-zealously enforced” the ban.
“I am told that many parents are now refusing to send their children to MRSM. They are hearing too many stories of what's going on in the college.”
Leon said he was made to understand that MRSM Betong has a Dayak student population of about 50%.
“Dayaks parents are refusing to send their children to MRSM and this is due to the rules the colleges have.”
Leon said another parent, who preferred to remain annonymous, had told him of brazen efforts by “unscrupulous teachers” to subtly convert Dayak school children in MRSM Betong.
When Leon highlighted the parents' claims in October, Uggah accused him of lying for political mileage.
“I stand by what I had said. Now we have the proof of the real situation faced by Dayak students in MRSM.”
Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Youth last week voiced their concern with the MRSM rules, saying they do not provide for the rights and spiritual well-being of other races.
The BN component party's education bureau chief Martin John Madden said the rules are not in line with the spirit of 1Malaysia.
He said Mara appeared to have missunderstood the term Bumiputera.
Madden said there are many Bumiputeras in Sabah and Sarawak who are neither Malays nor Muslims.
“The rules are not inclusive in nature because while Muslim students are allowed to hold religious activities, their non-Muslim counterparts are barred from doing so.
“Under the Federal Constitution, all Malaysians are guaranteed the right to practise their religions freely,” said Madden.
He called for Mara to end the religious bias, saying the ban on religious symbols and religious activity in MRSM was really unnecessary as secondary schools in the state allowed students to practise their faiths freely. – February 6, 2015.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/parents-want-end-to-religious-ban-in-sarawak-mara-junior-colleges#sthash.gUzp4E4E.dpuf

3 comments:

Ozzie Wozzie said...

They do things, then deny afterwards.

Isnt that typical IN DENIAL ?

Ozzie Wozzie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ozzie Wozzie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.