| Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | Asia Samachar |16 June 2015 |
Sikhs students in the Malaysian public schools can take a breather with a new circular that spells out clearly their rights to maintain unshorn hair, facial hair and wearing the kara (bangle).
The Ministry of Education (MOE) circular, addressed to all ministry divisions and state directors, was dated 4 June 2015.
In the past, Sikh students observing their faith had encountered issues with school authorities when it came to maintaining their uncut hair and facial hair, including the beard and moustache.
Many a time, they faced an uphill battle to convince school heads that their religion forbids them from shaving hair from any part of their body. Previous MOE circulars on the matter did not help either as they were vague in some areas, especially when it came to allowing Sikh students to maintain their moustache.
“This circular clarifies the issues created by the earlier circular,” Malaysian Gurdwara Council (MGC) president Jagir Singh tells Asia Samachar.
The latest circular dated 4 June 2015, signed by MOE director-general for education Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof, is entitled ‘Surat Pekeliling Ikhtisas Bil. 9 Tahun 2015 – Panduan berkenaan rambut dan pemakaian steel bangle (Kara) oleh murid-murid keturunan Sikh’.
The MGC had dispatched a letter dated 8 June 8 2015 to all gurdwaras with a copy of the latest MOE circulation. [See here].
“Male students, teachers and staff of Sikh faith are allowed to keep unshorn hair and facial hair provided they are wearing turban and having jura (that is unshorn hair),” says the MGC letter to the local gurdwaras.
The new circular also makes it clear that students, teachers and staff of the Sikh faith are allowed to wear bangle (Kara), it adds.
Various Sikh organisations had taken up the matter with the education authorities over the years to bring about more clarity on the matter.
In February 2011, for example, MGC had written to the Prime Minister’s Office to appeal for Sikh 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,” Jagir was quoted in a report entitled ‘Allow Sikh students to sport beard’ in The Star.
The Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organisations (CMSO) had also been actively engaging Deputy Minister of Education II P Kamalanathan on the matter [See here].
Jagir said the circulars should be reaching schools nationwide within this week.
Keeping of ‘long hair’, ‘facial hair’ and wearing of kara – MGC (Asia Samachar, 16 June 2015)
Education Ministry ‘actively’ looking into beard matter (Asia Samachar, 11 Mar 2015)
Peraturan rambut, pemakaian kara – CMSO (Asia Samachar, 11 Mar 2015)
School children asked to shave facial hair – GERAKSIKH (Asia Samachar, 11 Mar 2015)
Allow Sikh students to sport beard – The Star (Asia Samachar, 3 Mar 2015)
The Sikh’s PR problem – DAWINDER (Asia Samachar, 8 Mar 2015)