KUALA LUMPUR, June 25, 2015:
The Malaysian Bar Council has called on the education authorities to uphold and put in practice the principles of harmony and unity in schools when it came to issues like the rights of non-Muslim students during the fasting month.Malaysian Bar Council president Steven Thiru said the recent statement by deputy Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching to avoid avoid eating or drinking in front of Muslim students does not inspire mutual respect and understanding among Malaysians.
He said it instead emboldens those who are misguided in their belief that only their rights matter and further result in resentment among those whose rights are ignored or marginalised. “This is a recipe for disharmony and disunity that we can ill afford. The purpose of fasting is not to inconvenience others who are not fasting. “Indeed, to impose any such inconvenience would appear to be contrary to the spirit of the fasting month and devalue the qualities that it seeks to honour,” he said in a press statement.
He said Yap’s statement was disturbing as it casts the everyday eating and drinking of those who are not fasting as acts of disrespect, and it encourages the curtailment of the rights of those who are not fasting. “This is inimical to the principles of mutual respect and understanding that underline our constitution.”
He said there were often attempts to compel or impose respect and understanding in schools in a divisive manner.“This serves to poison the minds of our children, and sows in them the seeds of prejudice, distrust and suspicion.“Our future as a nation will be in jeopardy if this worrying trend is not arrested and reversed.”