Put education ahead of shortcuts to heaven, says Anwar

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim at a dinner hosted by the Malaysian Association of Indian University Graduates.

PUTRAJAYA: Anwar Ibrahim has criticised those who put religious excess ahead of education, saying Malaysians should not subscribe to the notion that religion is a shortcut to heaven.

Education was the main priority in the fight against poverty, said Anwar, at a dinner hosted by the Malaysian Association of Indian University Graduates.

Pledging to move forward with Pakatan Harapan’s reform agenda, he said that “some obsolete policies must be changed” while noting that this required courage and conviction.

“Poverty and social problems are real problems that are not confined to Indians alone, but also rural Malays and natives in the heartlands of Sabah and Sarawak.”

The PKR president said one issue he saw within the Malay community was the construction of glorious and majestic mosques.

“I’m not against this, but we can’t do this at the expense of quality education,” he said. “Similarly, with Hindus, you find impressive and huge new temples and the plight of the rural Tamil schools is sometimes ignored.”

He said some people viewed religion as a shortcut to heaven: by supporting their masjid or temples, at the expense of education and health, they felt they were assured of a place in heaven.

“I don’t think we Malaysians should subscribe to this. Support our mosques and temples, of course, but the future of our children lies with them getting a good quality education.”

Anwar said Pakatan Harapan’s commitment to reforms was “irreversible”. The party’s mandate was to ensure rule of law and not to continue with obsolete and corrupt policies.

“Reformists must appreciate that slogans are meaningless without the spirit to sustain these reforms. Some obsolete policies must change and this requires courage and conviction to ensure this is well understood.”

He said more should be concerned about abject poverty.

This, he said, was why he suggested that PH make it clear that the country’s economic policies must ensure growth with equity.