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Stop sending Ustaz to Sarawak schools’

Dayaks in Sarawak must resist an alleged attempt to convert
their children and take away their rights.
KUCHING: A simmering issue over the alleged conversion to Islam of Dayak students and pre-schoolers in Sarawak is set to explode in the Umno-led Barisan Nasional’s face .

Responding to the latest allegations that there was an attempt to impart Islamic teaching and practices to non-Muslim children in some Kemas and government pre-schools in the rural areas, the state’s largest Dayak organisation has demanded an immediate stop to such covert activities.

Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) which has well over 100,000 members are demanding that the Taib Mahmud-led state administration intervene and arrest the situation or face public wrath.

In May this year Barisan Nasional coalition partner Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president James Masing had alleged that the Education Ministry would be seconding thousands of teachers including ‘Malay religious teachers’ from the peninsular to Sarawak to meet the shortage of teachers.

But Educationa Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had dismissed Masing’s claims.

Last week at the state legislative assembly, Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian had expressed parents’ concern that their pre-school children were being exposed to Islamic prayers and practices.

Reacting today, SDNU deputy president Dr John Brian Anthony said: “We want the government to put a stop to it, because it is not healthy for the country where one religion is trying to patronise each other.

“Yes (we know) in Malaysia we have Islam as the official religion…but we have to respect each other.

“Once you have embraced Islam, dress like a Malay and speak the Malay Language, you are Malay. I think this is a political reason.

“We Dayaks in Sarawak must resist this attempt. It interferes with our rights.”

‘Real attempt’ to convert

Brian was responding to Bian, who is state PKR chairman, and Barisan Nasional assemblyman Dennis Ngau’s (Telang Usan) concerns which they raised during the debate on the state budget.

Bian said he had received complaints from parents that their pre-school children in the government run Kemas schools in the rural areas have been receiving Islamic teachings and that these children were reciting these prayers at home.

Describing the allegations as a “real attempt at imparting the Islamic teachings and practices”, Bian urged the state government to intervene and investigate the issue.

Ngau from ruling Barisan Nasional also supported Bian’s call and told the members of the state assembly that he too received similar complaints from parents.

He agreed with Bian that the government should seriously look into the complaints.

No need for West Malaysian teachers

According to Brian, there were also complaints that Muslim religious teachers were being sent to the rural areas.

“We have heard that Muslims teachers including Ustaz have been sent to the rural areas where they are Dayak children.

“As there are no Malay children, who are going to learn, if it is not with the intention of converting the poor Dayak children to become Muslims?

“We want the government to look into the matter and put a stop to it.

“It is not going to be healthy for the country,” Brian said.

In May this year, Masing along with several other quarters had voiced concerns over religious teachers from Peninsular Malaysia being imported into Sarawak.

Sharing Masing’s concern was Sarawak DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen who said that Sarawak must oppose these teachers from being imported to the state, “especially after having seen the effects” (of Islamisation) in Peninsular Malaysia.

“We don’t need West Malaysian teachers who are extremists to influence our children,” he had said.


Covert attempt to convert Christian pre-schoolers?
Joseph Tawie
November 16, 2011

Christian parents in rural Sarawak are uncomfortable listening to the pre-school children reciting Islamic prayers at home.

KUCHING: Parents in Sarawak are concerned about the subtle attempts at imparting Islamic teachings and practices to children in pre-schools in the rural areas.

Debating the 2012 budget in the current Sarawak Legislative Assembly sitting, Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian said there was a ‘very real problem’ because parents were complaining that their children come home from school reciting Islamic prayers.

“Many rural areas are predominantly Christian, and there is a very real problem of subtle attempts at imparting Islamic teachings and practices in pre-schools.

“There are reports from parents of school children that their children come home from school and recite the Islamic ways of praying at home.

“From my own constituency of Ba’Kelalan, I have personally received reports of such incidents that happened to children from two families,” said Bian, who is also Sarawak PKR chief.

According to news reports, the Kemas director-general Puhat Mat Nayan said that as at 2010, Kemas had established 539 new pre-school classes and will open another 2,000 new ones.

Last year, Kemas opened 150 kindergartens in the state and for this year, they have set up 300 more to increase the accessibility to early childhood education.

Ensure fair teachings

Bian said that the people are concerned that these pre-schools are staffed by teachers from outside the local community and worst if they come from Peninsular Malaysia, the majority of whom are Muslims.

“Added to this concern is the news that Kemas schools will be taking on the Permata syllabus, as announced in Sabah in July this year by National Permata programme patron Rosmah Mansor.

“I was informed that one of the subjects in the Permata curriculum is Islamic teachings in class.

“Can we be guaranteed that all non-Muslim children be exempted from these classes or lessons?

“What are the steps taken by the state government to ensure that teachers of different faiths do not impart or teach their beliefs to the children of different faiths or beliefs in these Tadika or Pra-Sekolah in the state?” asked Bian.

Bian said to ensure fair teachings in Kemas, teachers from the local communities should be recruited.

“I propose that local teachers from the local community be recruited to teach in these Tadika or pra-sekolah to avoid any conflict of religious beliefs.

“Secondly, I propose that allocations should be made to NGOs and religious organisations to start or support their own tadika or pre-schools to reflect our support of imparting knowledge to all notwithstanding their racial or religious backgrounds,” Bian said.

Re-direct Permata funds

On the teaching of mother tongue language, Bian asked the government to allocate an official budget every year for the teaching of languages of all the different races in Sarawak from pre-school to Primary Six level.

“The loss of our people’s mother tongue is a serious threat and the precursor to the loss of our culture and identity.

“The preservation of our languages must be given priority or our people will slowly lose their unique and distinct cultures.

“With the common incidences of inter-marriage between different races in Sarawak, this request needs immediate implementation, “said Bian.

He suggested that funds allocated to Kemas or Permata be used instead to train teachers to teach in their local languages or dialects.

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