Thursday, 15th May 2014
Semenanjung NGO tries To Convert Christian Students In Sarawak
Sarawak's education department today suspended the controversial "Anak Angkat" (adoption) programme in schools in the state following protests from parents that the event was a covert attempt to convert Christian students to Islam.
Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister's Department Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman (pic), who ordered the suspension of the programme, however, said the entire issue was a misunderstanding.
He said it was a sanctioned motivational programme funded by the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, aimed at students from poor families.
He said the programme was run by an NGO called the Organisation of Graduates and Educational Institutions Malaysia, or better known as Haluan, which is based in Bangi, Selangor.
Daud said all religious elements in the future module of the programme would be removed.
“There was no intention to convert non-Muslims to Islam in the programme,” Daud said.
Yesterday, Sarawak Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing highlighted this issue after parents of students in SMK Balai Ringin complained about the programme.
The parents told Masing the programme, first held at SMK Serian, a school about 60km from Kuching, was attended by about 50 mostly non-Muslim students on March 8.
The second was held at SMK Balai Ringin, a school about 6km from SMK Serian, last Saturday but the number of students who attended was only 21.
The whole programme was supposed to be run for 10 weeks on every Saturdays.
Students told their parents two teachers picked who should attend the programme and said it was a co-curriculum activity, but added they were asked questions on Islam.
They also pointed out that the programme facilitators were all Muslims and the talks had religious elements.
Daud said the suspension would allow the education department to review the module of the programme to remove all suspicions about it being a covert religious conversion programme.
“What happened in SMK Balai Ringin is a very regrettable affair. Even though the intention of the motivational programme was good, it was misunderstood by the students and their parents,” Daud said.
He said if it is found that there was an attempt by the NGO, Haluan, to use the programme to convert students in Sarawak schools, action would be taken against them.
“We believe that conversion is up to the individual. Any attempt to covertly convert non-Muslims to Muslims is not right.”
Daud made it clear that it was the policy of the state that Islamic religious agencies in Sarawak would never become involved in attempts to convert non-Muslims into Islam.
He also said to preserve the harmony and religious tolerance in the state, the Sarawak Majlis Islam kept tabs on all “dakwah” (missionary) activities in the state.
“Any missionary group coming into the state would be vetted and their programmes scrutinised.”
He said those that do attempt to break the state's "no-forced conversion" policy would be deported.
Haluan started its programme in 2009 with the aim to motivate poor students to perform better academically.