Tee’s Chinese-type religious schools get mixed response

PETALING JAYA: Controversial preacher Ridhuan Tee Abdullah’s proposal for the government to build Chinese-type religious schools risks a backlash from the Chinese community, Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) deputy president Salahuddin Ayub said today.

He said although it sounds like a good idea, but without the specifics on how it will be implemented and other details, the Chinese community will not readily accept it.

“I worry that it may cause a situation where the Chinese community misunderstands the purpose of building such schools and they will end up calling it an effort to force Chinese to learn Islam, so Ridhuan Tee must be very clear about his objectives,” Salahuddin said.

He added that if the only purpose was to get Muslim students to learn Mandarin then many parents had already found it sufficient to send their children to the existing Chinese vernacular schools.

Penang DAP vice-chairman Zairil Khir Johari, on the other hand, claimed the proposal had a hidden intent which was to imply that the current Chinese vernacular schools were not Muslim-friendly.

“The fact that many Malay parents now send their children to vernacular schools proves that the schools can provide for Muslim students. Hence, there is no need for the government to create schools specifically for such a purpose,” he told FMT, adding that such “narrow views” should be rejected.

“Islam has survived for over a thousand years without people like Ridhuan Tee to ‘protect’ it.”

Zairil also pointed out that if parents were choosing other school streams, then that only meant that there was something wrong with the national school system and the solution was to fix the system.

“The government should focus on improving the current school system in terms of its pedagogues, facilities and teacher quality.

“If at all there is a demand for ‘Islamic schools in Mandarin’ – which is what I assume he means, then I’m sure the relevant people would take care of it.”

Meanwhile, the leader of a group representing Muslim converts, Multiracial Reverted Muslims (MRM), was in favour of the proposal from Ridhuan Tee.

MRM President Firdaus Wong commended the idea, saying that there was an increasing number of Chinese Muslims in the country.

“All parties should give their support to this proposal, especially MCA who struggle for the Chinese community here in the country,” he told FMT.

However, Firdaus said that there was no need to build new schools as the government could easily turn an existing national school into a Chinese-type religious school.

“This is something that the government can consider in order for the proposal to become a reality much quicker and it will also save cost.”

Yesterday, Tee proposed that the government build Chinese-type religious schools for Muslims to compete against Chinese vernacular schools.

In his weekly column in Sinar Harian, Tee said this was the best solution if the government felt that the Chinese language was important in the pursuit of progress and to meet the rise of China’s economic power.

Tee’s proposal comes in the wake of UKM Professor Teo Kok Seong’s revelation that more Malay parents were sending their children to Chinese schools.

Teo also said more Malaysian parents wanted their children to learn Mandarin to boost career and business prospects, especially with the emergence of China as an economic superpower.