Wednesday, 5 December 2007

The Crosses Stay Put

On Monday (Dec 3) Federal Deputy Education Minister Datuk Noh Omar said it was a tradition for Mission Schools to have Crosses erected in schools' compound and they was no reason to remove them.

This assurances was made by the Deputy Minister in the wake of calls by Government Members of Parliament Syed Hood Syed Edrus (Parit Sulong) and Datuk Mohamed Aziz (Sri Gading) in Parliament to remove the Crosses and Virgin Mary statues.

Syed Hood said he was disappointed that the statue of Virgin Mary was displayed in front of convents schools and questioned why the Education Ministry allowed it as Malaysia is an Islamic nation.

Mohamed in support of Syed Hood said a Muslim father complained that these schools remained open when Hari Raya Aidilfitri was celebrated.

Opposition leader in Parliament Lim Kit Siang also said that there was growing intolerance and increasing extremism in Malaysia and the latest being the demand for the removal of crosses and demolition of Christian statues in Mission schools.

Noh Omar told Parliament in his answer to Kit Siang said: "We will continue with the current practice, which is a tradition started long time ago."

In Sabah, the Sabah Counsel of Churches chairman Bishop Datuk Voo Thien Fui welcomed the firm assurance by the Education Ministry that crucifixes placed in Christian Mission schools which have been part and parcel of the identity of such schools since time immemorial will not be removed.

The Bishop said the Council was very happy with the decision and thank the Government for understanding the sensitivities of Christians.

Former principal of Kota Kinabalu La Salle Secondary School, Brother Datuk Charles O'Leary expressed happiness that the statement by the two MPs had been corrected by higher authorities.

He said actions would be taken to dispel the anxieties and criticisms of the Christian communities throughout the nation.

Bro Charles said having crosses in Christian missionary schools is a long tradition going back to a couple of hundred years.

"Since Malaysia's independence, Christian schools have played an important part in the development of the country and in the promotion of education," he said.

"We opened our doors to Muslim students and there was never any attempt at making Muslim students Christians," Bro Charles added,

Bro Charles also recalled a statement by ex-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that his father attended school in St Xavier's Penang and even studied the Holy Scriptures.

Principal of the St Francis Convent Secondary School, Kota Kinabalu, Pang Shat Mui said the population of the school (Form One - Form Five) is 843 of which 300 are Muslims.

This school started as a primary school in 1923.

My Say:

During my tour of duty in Europe, I was based in London and stayed at 31 Chapel Side, Moscow Road, London W2 4LL. A portion of the house is sharing a common wall with a Catholic church, hence the name Chapel Side. My office cum house was on the second floor and a floor above me was a Muslim family - Sdr Karim Sulaiman and wife Siti Hawa and their children.

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