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