Education Ministry ‘actively’ looking into beard matter

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Autar Singh (left) and P Kamalanathan
Autar Singh (left) and P Kamalanathan

MALAYSIA: The Education Ministry is ‘actively’ looking into the matter pertaining to male Sikh student not allowed to spot the beard, an issue raised in a local newspaper last week, but a firm resolution is still not in sight.

“We are made to understand that the ministry is actively looking into the matter,” Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organisations (CMSO) secretary general Autar Singh told Asia Samachar after a meeting with Deputy Minister of Education II P Kamalanathan.

At the meeting in Kuala Lumpur today (11 Mar 2015), Autar had raised a number of education-related matters, including the predicament of male Sikh students, which the coalition had raised in a letter to the ministry, via the deputy minister, in August 2014. The letter, in Malay, is available here.

“There are some internal complications that they need to resolve,” he said, declining to elaborate on the issue at this juncture.

On March 3, The Star, the nation’s largest selling English newspaper, highlighted the plight of male Sikh students in an article entitled ‘Allow Sikh students to sport beard’. [See Asia Samachar report on the article here.]

In one response in the article, Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) president Jagir Singh said the council had raised the matter with the ministry in 2011.

“We wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office in February of that year and appealed for our boys to be allowed to wear a turban, the steel bangle or kara and to keep their facial hair as required by our religion.

“A circular was issued by the ministry the following month to all schools but it had overlooked the part about the facial hair,” he told the newspaper.

When contacted by Asia Samachar earlier this week, Jagir said that a resolution should be around the corner.

Following The Star report, Malaysia National Sikhs Movement (GerakSikh) had dispatched a letter to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

In the letter, GerakSikh secretary general Amarjit Singh Gill said such incidents have been taking place periodically as a result of some overzealous staff.

“It is rather surprising that after 58 years of Independence, there are still some individuals who are not well versed with the religious beliefs of the Sikh Community. To make it worse, being a school administrator, the school heads threaten expulsion for following the faith,” he wrote in the letter to Suhakam chairman Hasmy Agam. – ASIA SAMACHAR (11 March 2015)

 

[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]

 

RELATED STORIES:

Allow Sikh students to sport beard – The Star (Asia Samachar, 3 Mar 2015)

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. The federal constitution allows freedom of all religion, thus, this issue should not repeatedly arise, for Sikhs.However, sometimes due to ignorance we may face such.

    However, it was quite amusing reading the comments on this subject on a facebook page.The ignorance of the teachers and head masters’ is understandable given the one sided propagation of religion by the govt.Equally,the Christians have been no less.

    Now,why after almost 165 year presence in Malaysia,the so called “educated” people have still not understood the essentiallity of hair in the Sikh faith,calls for an analysis- a self introspection of our own attitude to the Sikh religion.The problem may appear to begin with the non Sikhs ,but it has certainly been exacerbated by the Sikhs themselves,especially the element that has turned it’s back on it’s own identity,it’s own language and culture.This element is totally,if not as equally ignorant of Guru given Sikhi themselves.

    It is said Ignorance breeds indifference,then alienation seaps in and loss of self dignity develops,quite,inadvertently, often very subtely.Non Sikhs may see this so called ‘modernity’and assume Sikhs are just becoming ‘modern’;when in actual fact these ‘Sikhs’ are themselves loosing the plot,by relaying the message wrongly to non Sikhs,that it is ‘okay’to be a mona and ‘sikh’ two very very very self destructive words used together ;very contrary to the path laid by the Gurus,and values built by the learned of the Panth.The presence of mona state is itself giving the wrong messages,but to blame the mara level ”educated ”so called..”learned”is really the clowns blaming the next clown sitting.Is this not,the case here.Indeed it is?

    A Rajindar Singh Ji and Dharam Randhawa hit the nail on the head.Their statements need to be understood and taken forward,is the way forward.I would urge Sikh organisations to utilise opportunities at teacher conferences to EDUCATE the heads and teachers regards hair and Sikh faith.Truth hurts and is unpalatable almost all times,but truth has to be told:if this means calling a spade,a spade ,then it be that….sikhs with no ID are apostates,like murtad.We Sikhs are really making it complicated..on one hand we say our faith prohibits cutting hair,on the other … …we make no noise about the patitipoona around us,but when such issues arise..we make noise….without an iota of backbone to stand clearly as practicing Sikhs in identity.No wonder people are ignorant..of our faith.This amounts to double standards among ourself.Just how ignorant we are,we forget.It is always easy to blame others.WE forget we are blasphemous ourselves.

    Before we educate others,we need to educate our own.Once our own are steadfast in our faith,others will learn fast,why Sikh faith values uncut natural hair.

    I must say, a Sarjit Gill too put some valid points, but his are systematic process that involve a lot of manourvering around departments etc and then have to be delivered by the right people, not any tom dick and harry.

    Let us take a self introspection.In Malaysia most Sikhs born in the last 40 years,over,through no fault of their own, except simple ignorance about the faith have spent more time sitting in barber shops,doing their hazamat than donning a turban.Many do not even know how to begin with a turban, or how long a turban should be.Most go to Gurduaras out of rituals, or to seek “other” fun, as they say, this includes girls etc.Many of these so called “sikhs” do NOT know the difference between a Punjabi or a Sikh.Only the other day, some legal eagle from Ipoh, wrote”punjabi gurduaras …”.Gurduaras are a Sikh place of worship, not a Punjabi, place of worship-although it may one of a punjabi worship place. While almost about [95%]all Sikhs are Punjabis, most Punjabis are NOT Sikhs.The Sikhs are only about 30% of the Punjabi population today.The Sikh worship in Malaysia has been relegated to singing shabads, eating a variety of foods, chit chat and ‘sudah la sudah lah’, as one lady said once to me.I do not understand what this so called “amrit” is that people put these in bottles;in large numbers under the Guru Granth sahib , for 36 hours and hope that miracles or blessings will take place.The amrit, that I know is the immersing into the Gurbani; that most have no clue about, leave alone read or ability to understand.I see many que up for KFC,Macdonalds, eating halal, which is clearly forbidden among Sikhs, without an iota of the blink of an eye.Sure, please do eat,if you have no qualms or dedication to your faith; but then do not be masters of the Sikh faith when it suits, and try to waffle around.I am more than amused with societies that carry GURU GOBIND SINGH JI’s name, but those running it, hardly look the identity of the FATHER-Guru Gobind Singh Ji–this are simply show cases, using the names of Sikhi, but entirely ignorant, void and empty of Sikhi truly!It is more like fraudsters using any opportunity to gain self fame, even at the expanse of the Guru sahibs..My friends, the list is endless.But let us call it a day here, over this.

    Once, I was posted to a new town on return from the US, a small town with about 100 Sikh homes..A case involving a Sikh school boy came about, went to court.I was invited for advice,support , and asked for views.I met with the barrister , a Sikh who has shorn his head and face.There and then, I told the few Gurduara officials gathered that, it is NOT advisable, we engage him to represent the case.”but, Sardar, Ji, he has done a lot for the Gurduara sat up etc.”I said that is NOT the issue here.It is representing the faith as it should be..After long deliberation, they went ahead to engage him.The case went to court, and when the time came to mitigate for the Sikh case, the mona chappie stood up and gave a very very good/excellent account of why Sikhs do not cut their hair etc.He gave many valid historical accounts from Sikh history, Bhai Taru Singh, other Sikhs martyrs, who refused to shear their hair, but chose martyrdom.After listening patiently, the gora judge asked one question’…Are you a Sikh?’ ”YES SIR, I AM” replied the mona barrister chappie.The judge then asked him, having listened to your plea, I am wondering where is YOUR turban ?’The chappie went speechless, dropped his head looking down.The judge said, for my own satisfaction, I need to know and thus asked.The case was thrown out, with the judge saying, knowing some of the Sikh history, I will suggest the plaintiffs review their representation, and come back with someone who will stand to what he says honestly.I rest my case, I am sure many may not like this.BUT this the honest state of affairs we have among us today.

    Many will tell us, “Sikhi is inside”.But when I once challenegd that statement from someone aspiring to be a leader,in Malaysia, he got very upset and apparently spent many sleepless nights.Little man … .. wanted to beat me up!!

    My questions was , explain what is this sikhi that is “inside”Guru Gobind Singh Ji, never gave any Sikhi to be “inside”.He gave FIVE OUTER ARTICLES of faith, to be part and parcel of our self.So how have these five got “inside”?Come on people, be honest ourselves,before we blame others.Bhulya chukiya maaf.

  2. A number of issues relating to the Education Ministry were brought up with YB P. Kamalanathan since August 2014. All issues, except the facial hair issue, have been successfully resolved by YB. In this case, he requested me to ‘give me (him) some space to resolve it amicably soon’. He has discussed it with relevant people in the Ministry. Hopefully it will be satisfactorily resolved sooner than later…

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