Family plays huge part in promoting racial unity, says Muslim NGO

Abim secretary-general Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz speaking at the forum.

PETALING JAYA: A Muslim NGO has denied an allegation that vernacular schools are a source of racial disunity among Malaysians, claiming that the family also plays an important role in shaping a one’s personality.

“Historically, we have already accepted a split schooling system, including vernacular schools and religious schools.

“Parents are the ones who must let their children socialise with other ethnic groups,” Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim) secretary-general Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz said.

“They can also be the ones who are not progressive in terms of broadening their children’s social circle.”

He believed that the family plays a more important role in establishing prejudiced perspectives in children.

Individuals themselves may also learn to be more critical of other races, he said on the sidelines of a forum titled “Aspirasi Malaysia: Realiti & Jalan Ke Depan” (“Malaysia’s aspirations: The realities and road ahead”).

“Parents can sometimes be responsible for a child’s narrow-minded mindset.

“It doesn’t matter which school we graduate from, be it a Chinese school or religious school.

“What is more important is that we need to have the initiative to explore and be more open to socialising with people who are different from us.”

Faisal said parents play a role in incorporating perspectives that are respectful and open towards the other races.

Previously, PAS Muslimat vice-chief Salamiah Md Nor had demanded the abolition of vernacular schools, claiming they don’t contribute to racial unity.

At the same forum, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) anthropology lecturer Ong Puay Liu said although children spend about eight hours in school, they go back to their family at the end of the day.

“So the family should prepare the groundwork to respect each other,” she said.

Ong agreed that local educational institutions are also at fault.

She said people’s mindsets are shaped by the conditions they grow up in.

“Apart from learning and adapting to the environment, children should also develop self-awareness and critical thinking to understand what’s right and wrong.”