KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 — The Education Ministry has shut down a tuition centre at Old Klang Road here that allegedly tried to convert Muslim schoolchildren to Christianity.
Umno-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia reported today Deputy Education Minister Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi as saying that the tuition centre was shut down because it did not have a valid permit.
He added the police and the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) were currently investigating the matter. Proselytising Muslims is an offence in Malaysia.
Puad, who is also the Batu Pahat MP, said the Education Ministry discovered that three Malay students from Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Setia, Jalan Kuchai Lama, had been studying at the tuition centre.
Utusan Malaysia also reported today that two Malay children studying at the tuition centre — aged seven and 12 years — as saying that marks would be deducted if they did not sing along to Christian songs.
They also said they watched cartoons showing Jesus Christ’s birth and death, but did not inform their parents about such activities.
“He (Jesus Christ) is my teacher’s God. My friends who are also studying with me there told me that they pitied Jesus because my teacher said He died on the cross,” one of them was quoted as saying.
The siblings — who said they were from a poor family — added that the tuition teachers gave them and other children free English classes.
Malay rights group Perkasa demonstrated yesterday against the Christians and demanded a ban on Christian teachers from national schools.
Missionary schools have existed since the 1800s when the British first came to the Malay peninsula and many top politicians have studied there over the years.
Among them is Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who received primary and secondary education at the St John’s Institution here.
The Methodist Church in Malaysia also said last May that private schools were a solution to the declining academic standards in public schools, and have begun building them in areas where government schools are absent.
Utusan Malaysia’s reports come on the back of heightened tension between Christian and Muslim groups following a recent raid by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) on the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) in Petaling Jaya.
Earlier this year, the Malay daily also accused the DAP of conspiring with church leaders to turn Malaysia into a Christian state and install a Christian prime minister.
The unsubstantiated report has further raised the mercury as the dispute over whether Christians can use the word Allah to describe their god remains unresolved.