Minister: Math teacher wrongly applied through Sarawak Islamic department

Lee Ah Moi said her grandchild is “deprived of all the benefits” granted to Malaysian citizens, noting that he has to pay for public schooling and healthcare — which would otherwise be provided for free or at minimal cost. — File pic

KUCHING, March 3 — Wong Wang Yuen, whose application to be a mathematics teacher was rejected after the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department vetted it, should have applied through the federal commission, a state minister said today.

“But since she applied for a job advertised by the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department, it is right that her application was vetted by the department,” Sarawak education minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah told reporters when responding to questions raised by Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen yesterday.

Fatimah, who is also the state minister of welfare, women and community wellbeing, said Wang’s application was rejected because she was not suitable for a job in the department.

“It is about matching the applicant with the job scope, and has nothing to do with race,” she said.

Fatimah explained that the government’s e-recruitment system was for the state civil service, while individuals who want to be teachers have to apply for the job through Jobs Malaysia or through the Education Service Commission under the Federal Service Commission.

“Therefore, the recruitment of teachers does not fall under the state list, and therefore, applicants should not apply via e-recruitment,” she said, adding that Wang was among 4,438 individuals applying for the same post in the Islamic Religious Department.

Fatimah reminded Wang and Chong to seek an explanation from the right agency rather than go to the press to “make a non-issue into a racial issue”.

At a press conference yesterday, Chong, who is also Bandar Kuching federal lawmaker, had asked Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg to explain why the Islamic Religious Department had to vet applications from non-Muslims who wanted to be school teachers in Sarawak.

He claimed that it did not make sense for the department to vet and approve applications from non-Muslims, citing Wang’s case as an example. Her application to be a mathematics teacher was rejected after the department vetted her application a month ago.

She holds a master’s degree in mathematics education from Sultan Idris Education University, graduating in 2013.

Wong, 31, had applied to be a mathematics teacher after learning from the state Education Department that Sarawak has a shortage of 600 teachers for critical subjects, including 64 vacancies for mathematics teachers.

Her application was made through the government’s e-recruitment system.