KUCHING: DAP Sarawak has called on the state government to take immediate action to stop taking Islamic religious teachers from Peninsular Malaysia to teach in Sarawak.
In a letter dated Feb 3, its chairman Chong Chieng Jen said the state Education Department with the consent of Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah and the state BN government had requested for, inter alia, 433 Islamic religious teachers from Peninsular Malaysia to teach in the state.
“Even assuming that these teachers are here not to carry out conversion of children of other religions to Islam, but their understanding and notion of Islamic teaching and culture are very different from those in Sarawak,” he told a press conference here yesterday.
To illustrate his point, Chong, who is Bandar Kuching MP, pointed out that the segregation of Muslims and non-Muslims was very obvious and strictly enforced in Peninsular Malaysia.
“We do not see any halal food stalls in a non-Muslim eating outlet in Peninsular Malaysia. We do not see Muslims drinking even a cup of tea or coffee in a non-Muslim eating outlet. These are the results of the long-term indoctrination of racial segregation under the Umno policies.
“In Sarawak, it is the reverse. We find Muslims eating halal food side by side with non-Muslims eating non-halal food in the same eating outlet. There are more interaction and mixing together between races in Sarawak and thus there is true racial harmony.”
Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman, feared that these Peninsular Malaysia Islamic religious teachers would bring in their version of Islamic teaching and indoctrinate children in Sarawak with the Umno version of Islamic teaching and further cause racial segregation.
“On an average ratio of one to 50 students, these teachers will influence the thinking of 20,000 students every day. In the long run, we will have a next generation of Sarawakian Muslims behaving the same way as the Umnos in Peninsular Malaysia.”
He argued that the importation of these 433 Islamic religious teachers would be the beginning of religious bigotry – the hallmark of Umno policies into Sarawak – and the subsequent breakdown of racial harmony in the state.
“By allowing this to happen, Fatimah and the Sarawak BN government have betrayed the trust of Sarawakians to defend their interest.”
Chong noted that the reason given for the importation of these Islamic teachers was that there was a shortage of such teachers in Sarawak.
“However, in a separate statement, Fatimah admitted that in an Internet post for advertisement for Islamic religious teachers by Jais, the state government received 4,438 applications from Jan 12 to 27 this year.”
He added that a mere 10 per cent of these applicants would suffice to fill up the alleged shortage of Islamic religious teachers in Sarawak and yet the government rejected all these applicants but allowed Peninsular Malaysian Islamic religious teachers to teach in the state.
As the minister in charge of education in Sarawak, Chong said Fatimah should look into this ridiculous phenomenon, as on one hand there were 4,438 applications for teaching positions offered by Jais while on the other hand there was a shortage of 433 Islamic religious teachers.
“It is impossible that not even a mere 10 per cent of those applicants are qualified to be Islamic religious teachers. Sarawakian Muslims can’t be that poor in their quality.”
He pointed out that if it was the system or policy that prohibited the recruitment of even 10 per cent of these applicants, as the government, BN should change such prejudicial system or policy.
“We further urge that the government give further consideration to the 4,438 applicants who had applied to Jais (as indicated by Fatimah) based on their true academic qualification not on the criteria set down by the Ministry of Education.”
Meanwhile, Fatimah was unreachable for comments at press time.