JOHOR BARU: A church leader has appealed to Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar to look into the rejection of leave for several Christian teachers for Easter Sunday (March 27).
The appeal by Bishop Bernard Paul, of the Malacca-Johor diocese, was made on Sultan Ibrahim’s official Facebook page on Sunday.
He sought the ruler’s intervention to remind state education authorities of the teachers’ right to apply for leave for such religious occasions.
The bishop’s appeal has gone viral on social media, according to The Star Online.
A snapshot of the post, only viewable by the bishop’s Facebook “friends”, has been widely circulated on Facebook and the WhatsApp messaging app.
The bishop was commended for standing up for the teachers.
In his post, he wrote: “Your Highness, I would like to bring to your attention of instances of denial of worship and religious freedom in the beloved state of Johor.
“The Catholic and Christian teachers have had their leave applications rejected by the school heads for the coming Easter Sunday (March 27).
“My people and I have only one desire, that is for your kind intervention to remind the education authorities to respect the provisions that are already there for special religious leave applications.
“May God bless you and your family for loving your rakyat. Johor Menjunjung Kasih Tuanku.”
Bishop Bernard said Easter was central to the Christian faith – and was even more important than Christmas.
During Easter, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In an immediate reaction, Star Online said Johor Education, Information Entrepreneurial Development and Co-operative Committee Chairman Md Jais Sarday said he would hold a discussion with Education Department officials soon.
“So far, it has come to my attention that three schools including a primary convent school, a secondary convent and a Chinese vernacular school have requested Easter Sunday to be declared a holiday.
“I will discuss this with the department and clarify the matter soon, including on the leave application of Christian teachers.”