Christian students are not banned from wearing necklaces with crosses to school in Sarawak as alleged, the state government has asserted.
Sarawak Minister of Welfare, Women and Community Well being Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said the secondary school principal in the Serian division who sparked the controversy likely stemmed from the way he reprimanded a student who wore a “big-sized” cross on campus, The Borneo Post reported today.
“Based on what I read from the report, the way he reprimanded the student could have been done more decently.
“There is restriction upon students when it comes to wearing religious symbols to school — that they must be worn appropriately. In this case, however, it could be that the principal had talked to the student in a way that was ‘tidak berhemah’,” she was quoted saying, using the Malay word for discourteous.
The state minister explained wearing symbols expressing one’s faith was allowed, but schools barred students from wearing those made of gold or other precious materials to protect them from becoming victims of theft.
Fatimah also said the Serian District Education Officer is investigating the issue and added that the principal has since apologised.
She also advised the public against playing up the issue to create tension among the different religions and ethnicities in Sarawak.
The issue reportedly went viral on social media, drawing criticism from Sarawakians, some who called for action against the principal.
Yesterday, the Association of Churches in Sarawak said it was investigating the authenticity of a complaint from a schoolgirl even though she had retracted the complaint against the school.
In her complaint, the student alleged that Christians were prohibited last week from wearing crosses to the school.
The Malay Mail Online