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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Non-Muslim students quizzed on Islamic issues


Non-Muslim students, who applied for Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) scholarships, have been quizzed on Islamic matters and this has raised the ire of Sarawak politicians.

During interviews, the students alleged that they were asked about hudud as well as their on knowledge regarding Muslim prayers.

Iban student Nigel Unchat Jeremiah, who scored straight As in his SPM examination, had raised the matter with Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president and state minister James Masing (left).

Nigel claimed that during the "open question and answer" session, he was asked questions on Islamic issues, including the names of Muslim prophets.

The student wanted to apply for a MARA scholarship to pursue a mechanical engineering programme at Kolej MARA Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.

There was also another Iban student who he claimed had been asked similar questions.

The interview, where candidates were divided in groups of 10, was conducted at Maktab Rendah Sains MARA in Semariang.

Attempt to disqualify non-Muslim students?

Criticising Mara officers, Masing said: "They should be more careful in framing their questions, and must not raise irrelevant issues and questions.”

Questioning the motive of asking such questions, the senior minister believed that it was to disqualify non-Muslim candidates.

"The questions were irrelevant to begin with as if the officers were religious bigots. Just because Malaysia is a Muslim country, it does not mean the whole nation knows about Islamic teachings.

"They should not have asked Islamic-based questions. It is plain wrong. What relevance do these questions have to applying for a higher learning scholarship?

"I don't want this incident to happen again especially in Sarawak where there are many natives and Muslims are in the minority," he added.

How long has this been happening?

Also furious about the incident, Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian (right) said if the allegations were true, it amounted to blatant discrimination.

"This is another proof of those in authority trying to subtly Islamise the non-Muslim students and suppress the minorities in Malaysia,” he added.

Demanding for an investigation, the Ba'Kelalan assemblyperson said: "This fund is a public fund and it would be a clear abuse of power by these officers. I wonder how long this has been going on.”

Meanwhile, DAP Serian branch chairperson Edward Luak accused MARA officers of purposely trying to disqualify non-Muslim native students from getting scholarships.

"They cannot ask questions related to Islamic matters to students who are Christians.

"Of course they cannot answer those questions. This is most unfair," the retired district officer said.

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