Department of Higher Education says onus on UniMAP to explain Zakir Naik exam question

Danial Dzulkifly
Dr Zakir Naik attends the Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 in Kuala Lumpur December 19, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 — The Department of Higher Education (JPT) has clarified today that Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) is solely responsible for any of its collegiate education programmes.

Following several controversial exam questions including one on controversial televangelist Dr Zakir Naik, JPT said in a statement that the matter is solely under the purview of UniMAP as it has the autonomy to set its own syllabus.

“The Higher Education Department (JPT) under the Ministry of Education Malaysia is aware of the controversy of some examination questions at Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP), which is considered sensitive by some,” it said.

“The sensitive questions include LGBT-related questions, strengthening jawi and Zakir Naik being an icon of the Islamic world.

“JPT wants to emphasise that each university has an Internal and External Quality Assurance system. The Academic Committee of each university (including the university Senate) is responsible for all of their academic standards,” said JPT, adding further that the department expects UniMAP to provide further clarification on the matter.

Dr Zakir Naik, which has been a polarising figure in Malaysia, was positioned as “an icon in the Muslim world” in one of the exam questions, drawing criticisms from many public figures, such as Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy and Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Wan Salim Wan Mohd.

The examination question at UniMAP read: “Zakir Naik is one of the icons of the Islamic world, he is very active in spreading true Islam and following the Quran and Sunnah of Rasulullah SAW. He is able to reason and to answer every question that is asked to him. However, in Malaysia, he is no longer allowed to deliver his preaching. In your opinion, as a Malaysian, why does it happen?”

Multiple choice answers were provided for the question.

The answers provided were: (1) Malaysians do not bother; (2) Sensitive Malaysians feel threatened for no reason; (3) Malaysians are normally submissive without any reason; (4) Malaysians are ignorant about their own religion.

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