Despite the urgency of reforming the Malaysian education system, our Ministry of Education (MOE) under the leadership of Dr. Maszlee Malik has decided to react bluntly to a school who had allegedly recited a Christian prayer during an awards ceremony.
After clamoring and cheering the Pakatan Harapan government for enabling a relatively greater democratic space, Pusat KOMAS feels the MOE was ignorant of the Federal Constitution, hence ‘bullied’ the missionary school by reflexing its muscle through its issuance of an unnecessary warning.
Pusat KOMAS as it clearly remembers, the Federal Constitution of Malaysia – the supreme land of the land guarantees Freedom of Religion. In Article 11, it is stated:
Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and, subject to clause (4), to propagate.
This explains to any law-abiding Malaysians that the religious practices of different faiths are allowed, guaranteed and protected by the Federal Constitution and the insensitive arguments which claim recital of prayers are attempts of proselytisation are shallow-minded and lacks substantiated evidences.
Malaysians who have studied in national schools or attended official ceremonies would have experienced the recital of Islamic prayers. Nevertheless, it was not rebutted as a subtle trick of converting people of other faiths to Islam. Yet again, it reminds us the civil rights of practicing beliefs as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, although we agree the position of Islam as the official religion of this nation. It is also to be noted, the Education Act does not mention anywhere about the prohibition of reciting prayers of different faith other than Islam – which begs the question what was the ground for this so called ‘stern warning’?
If the MOE and Government of Malaysia believes they are susceptible to threats of conversion or there are true concerns about the presence of religion as a divisive element to the unity among Malaysians, Pusat KOMAS would like to recommend by expanding Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad’s call to revoke religion from our educational institutions as a vital step of overhauling the entire education system.
Understanding that it would need better exploration and critical engagements with relevant stakeholders in implementing crucial reforms in the education sector, it is encouraged that the government will champion true reforms instead of pandering to racial and religious rhetoric.
Pusat KOMAS urges the Ministry of Education to seriously concentrate to revamp and groom the education system to be an arena where unity is emphasised and built on par with academic excellence. We hope MOE will educate themselves and allow schools to school us into respecting and appreciating all religions and belief, only then education in Malaysian will matter for our next generation.
1st October 2019.