KUCHING, March 2 — Sarawak DAP urged Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg today to explain the rationale for the state Islamic department vetting non-Muslim applicants who want to be school teachers in the state.
“It simply does not make any sense for the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department to filter and approve applications from non-Muslims who want to be teachers,” Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen, who is also Sarawak Opposition Leader, told reporters.
Chong cited the case of a female applicant, Wong Wang Yuen, whose application to be a mathematics teacher was rejected after the Islamic department vetted her application a month ago.
She holds a master's degree in mathematics education from Sultan Idris Education University, graduating in 2013.
“Why must the department be involved in filtering her application when she is not a Muslim and she is not going to teach Islamic Studies, but mathematics?” the Bandar Kuching MP asked.
Chong, who is also the state assemblyman for Kota Sentosa, said all the talks by the state government leaders on education autonomy were just to make Sarawakians happy.
“Here, we have a real life example where a fellow Sarawakian who wants to be a teacher is being rejected by the federal government,” he said, adding that there could be many more cases of applications being rejected after being filtered by the Islamic religious department.
Chong said Wong, 31, had applied to be a mathematics teacher, upon learning from the state Education Department that Sarawak had a shortage of 600 teachers for critical subjects, including 64 vacancies for mathematics teachers.
He said the application was made through the government's e-recruitment system.
“To her dismay, her application was rejected when she checked her personal profile in the system. The ground of rejection was most absurd and it was by Jabatan Agama Islam Sarawak and the reason given was that the application did not meet the criteria after being filtered,” he said.
He added she had applied to be a teacher since 2010 through the e-recruitment system, soon after graduating from Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (Unitar) with a bachelor's degree in education.
He said her numerous applications were rejected because the federal government no longer recognised degrees from Unitar.
Chong said he has also written a letter to state education director Rakayah Madon for an explanation on the matter.