‘Moral’ textbook is wrong and must be changed, says Chandra Muzaffar

Cover page of Primary 6 textbook printed in 2015.

PETALING JAYA: The Rukun Negara’s first principle, Belief in God is meant for all faiths and not just Islam, and has been wrongly interpreted in a Primary Six textbook for Moral Studies, says prominent intellectual Chandra Muzaffar.

He urged the education minister, Maszlee Malik, to correct the wrong so that justice is done to the Rukun Negara. “It will be very sad if the textbook is not corrected,” he added.

Chandra’s comments were in response to a controversial mid-term examination paper on the Rukun Negara at a primary school in Shah Alam. A pupil chose not to tick the answer to a question about how the first principle could be followed. The answer given was “to accept Islam as the official religion of the federation”.

Question paper where the students lost 2 marks for not agreeing to the answer to Belief in God.

The headmaster of the primary school in Shah Alam said the examination paper was in line with a government-issued “Pendidikan Moral” textbook printed in 2015.

However, Chandra told FMT that the words implied in the Moral Studies textbook “suggests and gives the impression that Belief in God in the Rukun Negara means accepting Islam as the official religion of the federation” and he pointed out that the “Rukun Negara is meant to be inclusive of all faiths be it Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and other faiths. It is not meant for a particular faith.”

Islam’s position as the official religion of the Federation was stated in the Federal Constitution and not the Rukun Negara, he said.

The Primary six textbook shows the explanation of Belief in God as accepting Islam as the official religion of the Federation.

Chandra said the Rukun Negara was drawn up by a National Consultative Council in January 1970 and the explanatory notes to the record of the proceedings stated that “belief in God was the first principle as majority of Malaysians belief in God but it does not link it to any religion,” he added.

The 2015 Moral Studies textbook was not in line with the Rukun Negara and the aspirations of the 1969 National Consultative Council, he said.

“The textbook should not be just linking it to Islam. The book is wrong,” he added.