Compulsory daily doa selamat recitation  for non-Muslim pupils at Convent Lebuh Light national primary school – such insensitivities will not be so easily resolved after the next general election

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(PenangWednesday): Penang State Exco Member on Economic, Education and Human Resources Development Datuk Dr. Toh Kin Woon is to be commended for intervening in the controversy over the compulsory daily doa selamat recitation for non-Muslim pupils at the Convent Lebuh Light national primary school in Penang although he would concede that the approach of the coming general election has a major bearing on its temporary resolution. 

However, after the next general election, if the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic state is seen as having received popular endorsement as in a landslide Barisan Nasional victory, then such insensitivities will not be so easily addressed or resolved, and even Dr. Toh in such a situation might not be able to  do much, whatever his personal beliefs and inclinations. 

There are forces at work stronger and more powerful than individuals or political parties, which explain why there have recently been a spate of insensitive and intolerant incidents which would have been unthinkable whether in the early years of Independence or even before the “929 Declaration” by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that Malaysia is an Islamic State at the Gerakan national delegates’ conference on Sept. 29, 2001, such as:

  • Malaysia acquiring an international reputation for social intolerance with the unlawful moral policing by local authorities such as Ipoh Municipality and Kuala Lumpur City Council in arresting couples for holding hands in public;
  • the new ruling implemented this year by the Johore Bahru municipalities requiring the written consent of  Muslim neighbours before issue or  renewal of  dog licences;
  • the ban on  sale of pork in open-air markets in Kajang;
  • the  removal of liquor and beer signages and advertisements in coffeeshops and restaurants and the crackdown on karaoke  and other entertainment outlets in the various Selangor municipalities;
  • Insensitive regulation by certain educational  authorities, like the Convent (Light Street) Girls’ Primary School, Penang, imposing the daily doa selamat on non-Muslim pupils or insensitivity about dress and different cultural ways of life; and
  • Ban on the Iban Bible

Before the next general election, it is possible to get these insensitive regulations and measures rescinded or modified – but it will be a  completely different ball-game if the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State can claim national electoral endorsement in the next polls.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman