BARU Bian (PKR-BaKelalan) has requested the government to obtain Department of Islamic Affairs Sarawak (Jais) and Department of Islamic Development Malaysia’s (Jakim) stand on Sarawakians rights to use the word ‘Allah’.
Baru, who is state PKR chairman, said their stand was necessary to allay fears of many Sarawakians on this issue and in support of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s stand.
“I’m thankful for the voices of the Chief Minister and Land Development Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing who have consistently rejected religious extremism that is being propounded by several groups in Peninsular Malaysia.
“Indeed, there is no place in Sarawak for supremacist and hate-mongering bigots and we must strive to keep them out of Sarawak. However, I must voice my concern that Jais and Jakim have not stated their stand on our rights to use the word ‘Allah’,” he said when debating the Supply Bill (2015)
Baru said State Islamic Council (Mais) members and their administrative arm Jais were appointed by the Agong and they were therefore answerable to the Agong and not the chief minister.
“The chief minister appears to have no say in the affairs of Mais and Jais. Jakim, which has branches in Sarawak, is a unit under the Prime Minister’s Department, and presumably, they are answerable to the prime minister and not to our chief minister.”
Baru said far from being excluded from the ramifications of the Federal Court’s decision to refuse the Catholic Church leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal’s decision that banned the use of the word ‘Allah’ in their Bahasa Malaysia publication, Sarawakians were being made to feel threatened by incidents such as the seizure in Peninsular Malaysia of their Christian materials containing the word ‘Allah’.
Meanwhile, while understanding that the Public Service Commission (PSC) had gone online for notification of vacancies and application for the positions offered, he said the powers that made this decision were obviously unfamiliar with the situation in rural Sarawak where Internet and Wi-Fi were still alien concepts.
“Besides the fact that many rural communities are still without grid electricity, Sarawak has only 55 per cent broadband penetration — therefore, by going online for PSC vacancy notification and applications, more than half the population will be denied opportunity of even knowing about the vacancies, let alone applying for one.
“This is discrimination against the rural population, who are already at a socio-economic disadvantage.
“It was reported by Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association president that their field trips to the interior of Sarawak revealed that many youths have failed to access the PSC website from cyber cafes and they feel that the decision to go online was actually a way to eliminate a section of the community from the jobs.”
Therefore, Baru said PSC must review this online system of recruitment adding that their reasoning that it saved them RM2.5 million cannot make up for the loss of opportunity for the disadvantaged people of Sarawak.
On a related development, Baru said he had lately been receiving complaints from civil servants that in many instances, their superior officers who should have retired were re-employed on renewable contracts, thereby denying the lower ranking staff the opportunity for promotions.
“While I have nothing against the extension of services of retired civil servants where there is a real need of their services and expertise and I acknowledge that many of them still have much to contribute to society, such practice must be balanced with the need to provide career advancement for deserving civil servants.
“I should be grateful for information from the government on how widespread this practice of re-employment of retired civil servants is, how many years on average the extension of service is for and whether they are any steps taken to ensure that such extension is not a hindrance for other officers in their career advancement.”