Monday, January 16, 2006

Sikh groups and Umno Youth voice concern

MALAYSIA,PETALING JAYA: Sikh organisations and the Umno Youth Public Complaints Bureau are among those that have expressed concern over the case where a Sikh student was told to shave or get a transfer to another school.

In a joint statement, seven Sikh bodies said some attempts had been made to resolve such issues in the past but cases of such nature had been on the increase.
“We are very perturbed by the action of the school principal as it goes directly against the freedom of religion enshrined in the Federal Constitution,” they said yesterday.

The organisations are the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council, Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia, Khalsa Diwan Malaysia, Malaysian Sikh Education Trust (Perak), Perak Sikh Union, Sant Sohan Singh Memorial Society (Malacca) and the Sikh Welfare Society Malaysia.

“We urge the Education Minister to issue a clear policy reminder to all schools in Malaysia to ensure that Sikh students are not prevented from following the precepts of their faith,” they said.

The Malaysian Sikh Association said it had been inundated with complaints of the same nature following the report in The Star.
President Santokh Singh said government officers should be given proper guidance to ensure that the religious rights of all communities were respected and protected.
“Before issuing an order which touches on the sensitivities of race or religion, the views of relevant religious groups should be sought first,” he added.

Bureau chief Datuk Subahan Kamal said teachers and principals should be equipped not only with academic knowledge, but also with sensitivity towards other races and religions.
“This is a classic learning case for teachers, school principals and the ministry. This is a multi-racial society. Do not create misunderstanding. As long as the students are neat, they should not need to write to the ministry to be permitted to keep their facial hair,” he added.
In Ipoh, state Education, Human Resources and Multimedia Committee chairman Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir urged the boy's parents and the school principal to resolve the matter immediately and amicably.

Noting that the regulation on this issue was clear, he said some leeway must be given on religious grounds.
“Exemptions are given to those who have to comply with their religion,” he added.


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