KUCHING, Jan 16 — The Boards of Management of Anglican Mission Schools in Sarawak did not refuse the use of Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) St Thomas hall by the organisers as a venue to hold Majlis Khatam Al-Quran next month, its president Datuk Danald Jute explained today.
He said the school authority felt “uncomfortable” about having the Majlis Khatam in the school because the ill-equipped open air school hall is simply not conducive for the purpose.
“The school did offer the organising committee the use of Bilik Solat in the school as an alternative venue.
“Having accepted this offer, they later retracted and declined it as being too small,” Danald said in a statement when denying that the school authority had refused the use of the school hall to hold Majlis Khatam Al-Quran scheduled to be held on February 3.
“With no conducive space within the school, and encouraged by offers for help from several sources, including the school PIBG, the organisers decided to hold the ceremony at the nearby hotel,” he said.
He said he, together with the chairman of the Board of Management of St Thomas’s School, held a meeting with the senior officials of the state Education Department (JPNS) on January 10.
“The meeting agreed that JPNS should issue a public statement to help ease the situation in view of the many inflammatory and malicious allegations labelled against our school, the Mission Authority, as well as our officers,” he added.
He said while the venue for the ceremony was now resolved, the meeting acknowledged the need to ease public brouhaha connected with the issue.
“More so because many members of the public, including those in high places, have without basis labelled our school as being discriminatory and prejudiced, thereby causing divisions and disunity.
“We categorically deny those accusations. We know who we are. We stand for unity, harmony, and understanding. It pains us to be painted as racist or anti-Islam because we are not.
“What is more disappointing and of grave concern is the fact that the internal memo between our officer and the Guru Besar of the school was leaked out without sanction.
“It was opened and shared out before the Guru Besar had the opportunity to read and acknowledge it, hence it lacked his signature or acknowledgment,” Danald said.
He said he condemns in the strongest of terms such an irresponsible act.
He said it is most disconcerting that those involved are civil servants within the state Education Department.
“What they did is against the ‘Etika Penggunaan Media Sosial oleh Penjawat Awam’ – ‘Peraturan-Peraturan Pegawai Awam (Kelakuan tatatertib) 1993 [P.U (A) 395/1993]’,” he said.
He said the Boards of Management of Anglican Schools in Sarawak, for the record, have no issue with activities which are part of the Curriculum.
“Beyond that, we have also been supportive of extracurricular activities involving Muslim students and teachers, such as Ihya Ramadhan, Sinar Syawal, Quran Hour, Cinta Kalam, Ken Bestari Solat, Bacaan Yasin, Majlis Iftar, Majlis Ramah Tamah, Solat Hajat and Quran Hour.
“A room is also dedicated as Bilik Solat,” he said.
He said like all other mission schools, SK St Thomas takes great pride in its longstanding tradition of giving its level best not just as an academic institution but also in contributing towards a better, united, more harmonious, and cohesive nation, especially in Sarawak where understanding and respect for one another is the order of everyday living amongst all people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
He said they are proud to play their role in fostering acceptance, unity, harmony in Sarawak.
“For the record, we have been doing this for the last 175 years. And we are unwavering in our commitment to continue this legacy of our founders and forefathers,” Danald said.
He said he reiterates that SK St Thomas is a Sekolah Kebangsaan and not a Sekolah Kerajaan.
“As a mission school we have our own ethos and character,” he said, adding that the Mission Authority as the owner of the school has the full rights, under Education Act 1996 to manage and to decide what may or may not be held within the school premises.
“The School Board of Management has the right to refuse the use of school premises for any purpose deemed incompatible with the school ethos, character, ideals, traditions, and essential identity,” he stressed.