Bishops expose ploy to convert under-aged students to IslamThe Catholic Church in Sabah has exposed a covert ploy to convert under-aged students to Islam in Labuan.
In a strongly worded letter signed by the four Roman Catholic bishops of Sabah, they complained that non-Muslim students at the Labuan Matriculation College between 17 and 18 years old, "are constantly subjected to various forms of harassment, ridicule and pressure to change their religion."
The residential college is under the matriculation division of the Ministry of Education and has an enrolment of 2,771 students from Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan. About half of them are Catholics and Protestants and the rest made up of Muslims other than 77 of them who are Buddhists.
According to the latest issue of "Catholic Sabah," the fortnightly newsletter of the ecclesiastical province of Kota Kinabalu, the letter dated 5 October last year was published two weeks later in the Herald, the Kuala Lumpur-based Catholic weekly newsletter.
The letter was jointly signed by Rev Datuk John Lee, who recently retired as Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu, Rev John Wong, Coadjutor Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu, Rev Datuk Cornelius Piong, Bishop of Keningau, and Rev Julius Dusin Gitom, Bishop of Sandakan.
Following the expose by the four bishops and publication of their letter, the education authorities responded by sending a senior delegation last month led by Dr Sariah Abdul Jalil from the Ministry of Education which included Sawan@ Rizal bin Amil, the director of the college and its deputy, Kamarudin Mansur, and five other key personnel from the college for a discussion with the Sabah Catholic Church to "thrash out certain issues" according to Catholic Sabah.
The two-hour meeting was described by the newsletter as "frank and cordial while affirming that the (Catholic) Church is committed to ensuring that the religious rights of all non-Muslims are not being eroded."
"The discussion on the protection of rights for the students also included the rights of the students to a safe and conducive learning environment, one that is free from harassment, intimidation and pressure," the newsletter said.
"The right to attend religious services without students losing out in additional classes or activities conducted by the college on weekends was also highlighted," it added.
The newsletter also said another highlight of the discussion was the right of the students to hold discussions, prayer meetings and services in the college and to form an association as provided for under the Educational Institutions (Discipline) Act 1976.
It also said the right to protection for non-Muslim lecturers and students who speak out against religious harassment was also raised during the discussions. Those familiar with such matters said in the past, any Christian teacher, especially those from Peninsular Malaysia would be given a 24-hour transfer notice from the Education Department if they raised such issues or complaints while serving in schools in Sabah or Sarawak.
When the issue first surfaced sometime in the middle of last year, the information was that an under-aged Catholic student and three more from the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) of Sabah were converted to Islam without the knowledge or consent of their parents. Subsequently, the number involved proved to be more.
The newly formed NECF-COSA or National Evangelical Christian Fellowship Commission of Sabah Affairs took up the case but did not proceed further due to lack of information. The matter was then referred to the Sabah Council of Churches. It was at this stage that the Catholic Church decided to conduct full scale probe into the matter that led to the four bishops issuing their joint letter together with a full report.
In Part 1, the Catholic Church in Sabah has exposed a covert ploy to convert under-aged students to Islam in Labuan and complained that non-Muslim students at the Labuan Matriculation College between 17 and 18 years old, “are constantly subjected to various forms of harassment, ridicule and pressure to change their religion.”
What the bishops found out shocked them. Some teachers there were proselytising Christian students resulting in some converting to Islam. The called for full probe after which a strongly worded letter jointly signed by the four Catholic bishops of Sabah together with a report prepared by the Sabah Catholic Diocesan Centre was despatched to the highest levels with copies to Education Minister Muyhiddin Yasin, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister as well as two Sabahan Christian ministers, Bernard Dompok and Dr Maximus Ongkili, as well as to Murphy Pakiam, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia.
More poignantly, the newly established Vatican Embassy in Malaysia known Apostolic Nunciature was also notified through its Charge’ d’Affairs Monsignor Marek Zalewski.
In their joint letter dated 5 October 2012, the four Bishops claimed that some lecturers at the Federal funded Labuan Matriculation College “are abusing their position as teachers/mentors by imposing their beliefs on (non-Muslim) students during classes and through the activities of the college. Some lecturers have made offensive remarks about Christianity with intent to hurt the religious feelings of the students.”
“In the light of the above, we trust that the college will uphold our constitutional rights as Malaysians and ensure that any infringement of the students’ rights is stopped immediately,” they added.
According those close to the case, the college has transferred a teacher identified by the students as one of those involved in the covert ploy has been transferred back to Peninsular Malaysia to placate the Catholic Church of Sabah.
The matter came to light when on 16 July last year, the Catholic Church received information through Catholic students at the matriculation college that some of the Muslim lecturers there attempted to influence their faith and as a result several students have embraced Islam.
A full probe was conducted by the church and written evidence was gathered from the students. The college has 2,771 residential students from Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan of which half or some 1,232 are Christians, the rest being Muslims. There are also 77 Buddhist students there.
The probe report said some Muslim lecturers disparaged Christianity, make comparison of Christianity with Islam, ridiculed (memalukan) Christian students, infused Islamic teachings during lessons even those which had nothing to do with the subject matter, and holding classes, activities and forums in suraus.
When two Catholic teachers tried to intervene in the case of an Iban Catholic girl who had converted, she was advised by an ustaz to make a police report against them for harassment. She made two police reports and another was also made by another Muslim lecturer.
According to the probe report, the modus operandi of the covert ploy to convert Catholic students is to spot students who are weak in their faith and those from poor families. They also look out for students who do not attend church regularly as well as those from broken families.
The two case cites in the report fit this profile. One is an Iban girl from a longhouse in Kanowit, an old Chinese trading post on the Rejang River, Borneo’s second longest river. Her father is unemployed while her mother is a farmer. She has five other siblings. She converted to Islam when she reached 18 years of age and changed her name to a Muslim one.
I managed to speak to her mother through mobile phone. She said her daughter didn’t ask them for permission to convert. She just told them when she came back wearing a tudung or the Muslim head covering. She said her daughter seldom went to church. Asked why she didn’t intervene she replied, “Apa boleh buat.” (What can we do).
The other girl is a Melanau from Miri who converted she was just two months short of the legal age of 18. She asked both her parents to accompany her to the religious department to give their consent. Both didn’t agree but went nevertheless to the department. I asked the father why he did that. “Tak tahu lah.”(Don’t know). He gave the same reply to my other questions or “dia suka” (she likes).
According to current issue of Catholic Sabah, the fortnightly newsletter of the Sabah Catholic Church, following the expose by the four bishops and publication of their letter, the education authorities responded by sending a senior delegation last month led by Dr Sariah Abdul Jalil from the Ministry of Education which included Sawan@ Rizal bin Amil, the director of the college and its deputy, Kamarudin Mansur, and five other key personnel from the college for a discussion with the Sabah Catholic Church to “thrash out certain issues.”
Subsequent to the meeting, the bishops were invited to submit a letter to Dr Sariah, outlining their complaint which she would include in her report to “higher authorities”, the newsletter added.
By BOB TEOH
The Churches are awaiting news from 'higher authorities.' The waiting can be five years or more depending on how the Government wants to screw the Christians. No Royalty are interested because they do not care. This is how the Sultans and Government play with other races and religion. The Sultans and Government do not show respect or honour the rights of the Rakyat.
Yet we get people like Hasan Ali, Ibrahim Ali, Nasharuddin and other pariahs shouting and demanding that the Rakyat respect them.
Many people like me will pray and watch the Royalty, UMNO Government, people like the 2 Ali etc.....receive their karma. From the past we have witness how many similar rascals suffered before their death and their family members all stray away.
Today we the Rakyat are been fucked right and left by the Mamak and Indonesia Muslim clan pendatang who claim they are more Malay and holier than others.
Date : 28/11/2009
YAB. Dato Seri Najib Razak
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Block Utama Bangunan Perdana Putra,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,
Tel : 03-8888 8000 Fax : 03-8888 3444
E-Mail : email@example.com
Re: Forced to convert to Islam prevalent- Indian poverty link.
S.Banggarma (27) a former occupant of a welfare home says she was forced to convert to Islam as a seven year old child by the Penang Welfare Department. This actually arose out of poverty. “ She ran away from the said home at the age of 18 and later found her father who was living like a beggar”. Her poor parents left her to the charge of the Penang Welfare Department. (The Star 25/11/09 at page N26 and The Sun 25/11/09 at page 4). Instead of giving this child the best the said Welfare Department took advantage of this family and the seven year old child by forcing her to convert to Islam.
S.Banggarma denied that her natural father had converted her to Islam when she was one year old. If that was so why was she made to sign a certificate to enter Islam again when she was seven years old.
This sort of forced conversations and/or attempts to do so are quite rampant also in orphanages, welfare homes, fully residential government schools and other educational institutions.
In 2007, a 17 year old youth who was studying at a Vocational school formally complained to us that he was pressured by his peers to convert to Islam which he was resisting. Then one fine day he was taken to the school’s religious teacher (Uztaz) who then took them to the local Islamic religious department where he was duly registered as an Muslim and issued with an Islamic conversation card. This youth was then told not to inform his parents or anyone else.
On hearing this from his Indian school friends his father immediately rushed to the school and at about 11.30 p.m the very same day took his son away from that school even that very wee hours of the morning. And that was the end of his Vocational skills training and so was his future vocational career .
We had then written a letter to the then Prime Minister but up to date his forced conversation status was never reversed even by the present Prime Minister.
But imagine the mysery this family has to go through. This youth right up to this day is a practicing hindu. In fact after this “tragedy” he has become a stauncher hindu then he ever was before. But nobody could help this boy not even the Malay-sian Courts because of UMNO’s thick racist and religious extremist policies.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Most non muslim parents fear sending their children to even the few places allowed to them in fully residential schools and institutions.
Article 11 of Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but on the ground level the UMNO Islamic religious affairs department officers reign supreme and take the law into their own hands. We are perplexed because even the national PAS Spritual leader and Kelantan Menteri Besar, YAB Dato Nik Aziz has said that in Islam there should be no forced conversation. And it is the bounden duty of the majority muslims to protect the minority non muslims especially the 7.5% Malaysian Indians.
How then are we supposed to work towards Malay-sian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s One Malay-sia. How then are we Malaysians supposed to interact, foster genuine national unity and national integration and co-exist as fellow Malaysians or as human beings in the first place.
We hereby urge your goodself to intervene and direct the Penang Islamic Religious Department to undo and reverse S.Banggarma’s forced conversation to Islam. Further we urge the Prime Minister to issue a circular that there shall strictly be no conversation of minors and youths below 21 years of age at all government schools institutions and bodies. And for all Malaysians who claim that they were forced to convert to Islam they be granted their said Constitutional right to revert to their original or any other religion of their choice as is provided under Article 11 of the Federal Condtitution. Mr.Prime Minister, these state of events are completely unnecessary. We could instead optimally utilize our time and energy and focus on nation building in the true One Malaysian sprit championed by your goodself.
Please, let us move on and move forward.
Kindly revert to us accordingly.
Secretary General ( pro-tem)