Red light to Khatam Al-Quran due to ill-equipped school hall, no religious elements involved

Bishop Datuk Danald Jute

By Shikin Louis

KUCHING, Jan 16: The recent controversy involving a mission school in Kuching allegedly prohibited from organising a ‘Khatam Al-Quran’ ceremony has been due to the school hall’s inconducive condition; the decision has nothing to do with discrimination, prejudice or religious sentiment.

Sarawak Anglican Mission Schools’ Boards of Management president Rt Revd Datuk Danald Jute said during a recent meeting between senior officers from Sarawak Education Department (JPNS) and him, together with St Thomas School Board of Management chairman, the school authority had explained the reason behind the word “uncomfortable” in the leaked letter.


“JPNS officials understood and accepted why the school authority felt ‘uncomfortable’ about having the ‘Khatam Al-Quran’ in the school (as) the ill-equipped open air school hall is simply not conducive for the purpose.

“The school did offer the ‘Khatam Al-Quran’ organising committee to use the Bilik Solat (prayer room) in the school as an alternative venue.

“Having accepted this offer, they later retracted and declined it as being too small.

“With no conducive space within the school, and encouraged by offers for help from several sources, including the school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), the organisers decided to hold the ceremony at Merdeka Palace Hotel,” Danald said in a statement today.

Earlier this month, SK St Thomas landed in hot water after a letter prohibiting the school from organising a ‘Khatam Al-Quran’ ceremony for its Primary 6 students scheduled early February, was leaked and circulated on social media.

After the letter was made public, netizens were quick to assume that the reason for the prohibition was related to discrimination and prejudice.

Apart from expressing his disappointment to the irresponsible party who leaked the letter, Danald denied all the accusations thrown towards the Sarawak Anglican Mission Schools, stating that they stand for unity, harmony and understanding, and are not “racist or anti-Islam”.

“For the record, we 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’, etc. A room is also dedicated as Bilik Solat.

“Like all other mission schools, SK St Thomas takes great pride in our long-standing tradition of giving our 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.

“Indeed, we are proud to play our 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,” he added.

To avoid any future misunderstanding, Danald also reiterated that as a mission school, SK St Thomas has its own ethos and character.

“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 emphasised. – DayakDaily