KUCHING: Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian has requested Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) to reply to his letter enquiring whether it had withdrawn the rule that restricts non-Muslim religious activities in all junior science college (MRSM) in the state.
“I cannot access their (Mara) Internet website (to check whether the rule has been withdrawn). It could either mean they have withdrawn the rule or they are trying to hide something.
“I don’t want to make a conclusion, not until there is a black and white reply from Mara. We want to clear this out, and they must be transparent because it had invoked a lot of apprehensions among many parents,” Baru told a press conference at state PKR headquarters here yesterday.
In his letter to Abdul Wahid Ahmad – the director of secondary education at Mara’s head office in Kuala Lumpur, Baru requested Mara to explain if the “additional rules” for non-Muslims students existed.
Baru, who is also state PKR chairman, said it was important to find out the truth as he had earlier said he planned to take legal action against Mara if the rules were not withdrawn.
The issue is Rule 9 in the MRSM guide book for new students. It stated that all religious activities, with the exception of Islamic religious activities, are totally prohibited within the campus.
The rule prohibited the display of religious symbols like crucifix necklace, and students are required to seek permission to attend religious activities outside the campus.
Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin directed Mara to revoke with immediate effect all regulations banning non-Muslims religious activities within MRSM campuses in Sarawak.
The ban was not only opposed by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem but Dayak leaders across the political spectrum.
It was reported that Adenan summoned Minister of Rural and Regional Development Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, whose ministry has jurisdiction over Mara, to Kuching to discuss the issue.
While Shafie denied there were religious curbs in Sarawak MRSMs, he told a press conference after meeting Adenan that if there were such regulations, “it is not right” and Mara would withdraw them.
A few days later, however, the minister was quoted by national news agency Bernama as saying that “MRSM had never imposed any additional rules that prevented students from following or practising their own religion”.
DAP vice chairman Leon Jimat Donald raised the issue when he voiced the concerns of some Dayak parents who had children studying in MRSM Betong last October.