EITHER Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim or Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek must explain to the public about the new “Imam AI-Nawawi’s 40 Hadith module” that is going to be introduced in public schools.
Whether the religious module is meant for Muslim students or for all the students remains unclear.
Right now, apart from the statement issued by the Deputy Education Minister Lim Hui Ying, why are the top leaders including the top civil servants in the Education Ministry tight-lipped about this module?
This could perhaps explain why the Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) had raised the question of the unconstitutionality of the introduction of the Hadith module in public schools, national and national-type schools. This includes the vernacular Chinese and Tamil streams of education.
If Hui Ying says that the Hadith Module is confined to Muslim students, then why the necessity to introduce it in vernacular schools where the student population is predominantly non-Malay and non-Muslim?
The Federal Constitution is very clear on the role of religions in the country. While Islam is the official religion of the country, other religions coexist in a harmonious manner.
Pandering to the right move
In the spirit and substance of the Federal Constitution, Islamic religious education cannot be thrust on the public schools that have substantial number of non-Muslim students.
There is no necessity for Hui Ying to soft pedal the introduction of the Hadith Module as though it only meant for Muslim students in public schools.
Why is Fadhlina who is gung-ho about the necessity of religious module silent on its implementation? Is there an unexplained mystery surrounding the module?
Of all the officials, she should be at the forefront explaining the necessity of the religious module, its applicability, what it means to the non-Muslim students and others.
Somehow or rather, I think that there is mystery surrounding the introduction of the module that might not have caught the eye of the deputy education minister.
I tend to think that the unity government had made the decision to move to the right long before the results of the recent state elections.
Additional funding for Islamic institutions such as JAKIM (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) and others are the tell-tale signs of the swing of the government to the right to appease political Islam.
The Hadith module in schools seems to be in line with the thinking of the government to ingratiate itself to the conservatives in Islam.
Whether such move will reduce the impact of the green wave remains to be seen. It is too late to bring back the horses to the stable after the door has been left opened for a while.
It is understandable and not understandable – at the same time – why the government has to move to the right as though it is the one and only solution.
But why punish the non-Muslims when they have stood behind the unity government in the last federal and subsequent state elections. Why are the non-Malay political representatives silent on the matter of the political appeasement?
What is the point of having solid backing of the non-Malays in the unity government but yet silent on the erosion of the fundamental rights of non-Malays in the country?
Instead of opposing the Hadith module, the non-Malay political operatives are justifying and condoning it.
It is not the just the recent religious conversion presided by Anwar but the religious module demonstrates once again that non-Malays or non-Muslims can be dispensed with in the country.
The more the non-Malays support the unity government, the more they seem to lose. Can someone out there explain the paradox? – Aug 25, 2023
Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He is also the former deputy chief minister II of Penang.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.