KUCHING: Sarawak Dayak National Union which is the biggest Dayak organisation with a membership of well over 100,000 calls on the government to look into allegations of rural Dayak children being converted into Islam.
“We want the government to put a stop to it, because it is not healthy for the country where one religion is trying to patronise each other,” said Dr. John Brian Anthony, Deputy President of the Union.
Brian was reacting to statements made by Baru Bian, Ba’Kelalan assemblyman and Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau made during the debate on the state budget on the alleged attempt to impart Islamic teaching and practices to non-Muslim children in some Kemas and government pre-schools in the rural areas.
Bian had received complaints from parents that their children in Kemas and government pre-schools in the rural areas have been receiving Islamic teachings and practice.
And there was a real attempt at imparting the Islamic teachings and practice in such schools and wanted the government to investigate, he said.
The BN assemblyman for Telang Usan told the members of the state assembly that he too received similar complaints from parents.
He agreed with Bian that the government should seriously look into the complaints.
Brian said: “We have heard that Muslims teachers including Ustaz have been sent to the rural areas where they are Dayak children.
“As there are no Malay children, who are going to learn, if it is not with the intention of converting the poor Dayak children to become Muslims,” he said, pointing out that in Sarawak, there is no official religion.
“Yes in Malaysia we have Islam as the official religion, but in Sarawak we don’t have. So we have to respect each other.
“Once you have embraced Islam, dress like a Malay and speak the Malay Language, you are Malay. I think this is a political reason.
“We Dayaks in Sarawak must resist this attempt. It interferes with our rights.
“We want the government to look into the matter and put a stop to it.
“It is not going to be healthy for the country,” Brian said.
Meanwhile, in May this year, several quarters have voiced concern over religious teachers from Peninsular Malaysia being imported to Sarawak.
Among those who expressed such concern was the President of Parti Rakyat Malaysia James Masing who said that thousands of teachers including ‘religious counsellors’ would be transferred to Sarawak especially to the rural areas.
Sharing Masing’s concern was Sarawak DAP Secretary Chong Chieng Jen who said that Sarawak must oppose these teachers from being imported to the state, especially after what they saw happening in Peninsular Malaysia.
“We don’t need West Malaysian teachers who are extremists to influence our children,” he had said.