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Ustaz's 1Malaysia Plan for East Malaysia...proselytisation

An alleged move to second 80,000 teachers to Sarawak could trigger social
implications, says Parti Rakyat Sarawak president James Masing.
SIBU: Is an alleged move by the Education Ministry to transfer 80,000 teachers from Peninsular Malaysia to Sarawak an insidious plan to “convert” locals?

If it is, then Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government is digging itself into an even deeper hole here.

Already, the majority Christian Sarawakians are seething at the Umno-led government’s high-handedness and arrogant dismissal of the Federal Constitution in relation to freedom to practise one’s own religion.

Sarawakian Christians have felt the brunt of restrictions on practising their religion, particularly in the use of the term “Allah”.

A Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling on Dec 31, 2009, allowing the Catholic publication “The Hearld” to use the term, triggered several cases of arson against churches in the peninsula.

The most recent scrape against the community came when the government impounded some 30,000 copies of the Al-Kitab, a Malay version of the bible imported from Indonesia meant for use among the local parishes in Sarawak.

To quote a church-going civil servant here, “practising one’s faith in Malaysia is now a struggle…”

Any attempt, even something as “innocuous” as sending teachers across to Sarawak to help improve standard of education is given a wary eye.

Expressing his concern over the latest alleged “threat”, Parti Rakyat Sarawak president James Masing said there were already 30,000 teachers from Peninsular Malaysia in Sarawak, including hundreds of “ustaz” (religious teachers) who are already stationed here.

“Why these ustaz are here I don’t know… But the ustaz are not seen as ‘ustaz per se. Here, they are called counselling teachers. Counselling on what matter, I do not know.

“It is quite worrying in the sense that if they are really who they are, then the tendency to teach is not there. They will be more inclined to look into aspects of religion than actually teaching the students,” he said.

Social problems

Asked if he was concerned that his views may be misinterpreted, Masing said: “If they are so-called counsellors in a correct form, I do not mind.

“If they are masquerading as something else, then it is quite dangerous,” he said.

Masing hopes his instincts are wrong.

He said there was really no need for an additional 80,000 teachers in Sarawak, adding that the move would deprive locals of teaching opportunities and create other social problems.

“I hope they are not transfering 80,000 teachers from the peninsula…We have enough Sarawakians who can teach.

“Such large numbers will cause other implications. I hope I am wrong.

“I will be very happy if I am wrong,” he told reporters after officiating at a pre-Gawai dinner oragnised by PRS Bukit Assek Women’s wing.

He said although PRS was agreeable to having teachers from the peninsula in the state, it was wrong to have outsiders depriving locals of opportunities.

“We are agreeable only if it is not done at the expense of Sarawak teachers. You cannot allow people from outside to take over people in Sarawak here to teach,” he said.

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