FAIRUZ MOHD SHAHAR
PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry has condemned Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen over his demand to stop the recruitment of Islamic religious teachers from Peninsular Malaysia for Sarawak.
Its minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, said Chong's statements are uncalled for, as it is normal for the ministry to send teachers from the peninsula to Sarawak.
"The ministry has been sending Islamic religious teachers to Sarawak since 1963. It has been a normal procedure for the past 50 years. So what is the problem?
"There are 401 vacancies for Islamic religious teachers in all schools in Sarawak. But there is an insufficient number of local graduates who can fill the vacancies.
"That is why we hire Islamic religious teachers from the peninsula for Sarawak. This has been agreed upon by the Sarawak state education department," Mahdzir told reporters at a press conference after speaking on the ministry’s English language education implementation strategy here.
Mahdzir said Chong should not make this a big issue.
"Malaysia is a multiracial country where the majority is Bumiputera and Muslim. We must respect other beliefs and cultures.
"As an opposition party, I know the DAP will always find ways to argue with the government, but it should not have touched on religious issues. It is not a smart move," he said.
It was reported that the DAP is standing firm on its demand that the government should stop sending Islamic religious teachers from the peninsula to Sarawak.
Chong said that the DAP does not want Muslims from the peninsula bringing their West Malaysian philosophies and ways of life to the state.
The Bandar Kuching member of Parliament also claimed that sending more Islamic religious teachers from the peninsula to the state would change the thinking of Sarawak Muslims.