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Monday, December 30, 2019

Education Ministry washes its hands of Zakir Naik exam question issue

PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry’s Higher Education Department will not interfere in the matter of exam questions from a public university that went viral, on the basis of “autonomy with accountability”.
The department said some questions from Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) included lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-related questions, Jawi consolidation and Zakir Naik being an “icon” of the Islamic world.
“We will not interfere in the conduct of academic programmes as we hold to the concept of autonomy with accountability.
“Through this, the university is responsible to all stakeholders, including students and the public, ” said the department in a statement Monday (Dec 30).
The department added that every university has an internal and external quality assurance system.
“Academic committees of each university (including the university senate) are responsible for their academic standards, ” it said.
UniMAP is expected to provide further clarification on this issue, the department added.
It also said that it constantly monitors universities’ excellence through a number of matrices such as graduates marketability, institutional excellence, and the university's impact on industry and society.
The question is believed to be part of the university's Ethnic Relations Course, and the test was held on Sunday (Dec 29).
The question reads: “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 Rasullah 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 speeches. In your opinion, as a Malaysian, why does this happen?”
The answers provided were: (1) Malaysians do not bother getting actual information; (2) Malaysians are sensitive and feel threatened for no reason; 3) Malaysians just follow the crowd without verifying any information; or
4) Malaysians are ignorant about their own religion.
The multiple-choice question allows the student to choose more than one answer.
In August, Zakir was banned from delivering public speeches in Malaysia after he insulted Malaysians of Chinese and Indian descent, and is known for criticising other religions.
He was at the recent Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019, saying he was there at the invitation of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. - Star

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