KUALA LUMPUR: India today expressed concern over the “negative and incorrect” picture conveyed about Hinduism and Sikhism after a leading Malaysian university published an educational module depicting Hindus in India as unclean following which the varsity has issued an apology.
“We are concerned at negative and incorrect picture being conveyed about Hinduism and Sikhism. Hinduism and Sikhism are two great religions which India has given birth to,” the High Commission of India in Malaysia said in a statement here.
Slides of the module by the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) appeared online enraging the minority ethnic Indian community and some others in this Muslim majority country.
The High Commission statement noted that Malaysia’s Minister of Health, Deputy Minister of Education and others had condemned this incident.
“We also note the “utmost regret and deep remorse” conveyed by UTM on this incident and their assurance that such incident will not recur, the statement added.
Among others, the module claimed that Islam had introduced civility to the lives of the Hindu community in India.
Another slide aimed at teaching the origins of Sikhism claimed that founder Guru Nanak had a poor understanding of Islam and had combined it with his surrounding Hindu lifestyle in forming the early foundation of the Sikh faith, Malay Mail online said yesterday.
The slides led to condemnation by the Malaysian Indian Progressive Association (MIPAS), which called for a retraction and apology from the university.
Muslim majority Malaysia’s 28 million population include 60 per cent Malays who are all Muslims, 25 per cent ethnic Chinese mostly Christians and Buddhists, and eight per cent ethnic Indians, a majority of whom are Hindus.
Meanwhile, UTM issued an apology last evening over the derogatory material that was used in lectures.
“On behalf of UTM, I would like to express our utmost regret and deep remorse for the lack of sensitivity on the part of our lecturers teaching the Titas (Tamadun Islam Tamadun Asia) subject,” said vice-chancellor Dr Wahid Omar said in a statement.
He said that a thorough investigation was being conducted on the incident and due action would be taken as necessary.
“We will ensure that this incident will not recur and we once again apologies for any hurt or displeasure we may have caused,” he said. Meanwhile, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), which is an important component of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition said those responsible for preparing the material derogatory to the Hindu and Sikh communities that was used in lectures at UTM should be charged for sedition.
The MCA Religious Harmony Bureau deputy chairman Ng Chok Sin has said in a statement yesterday that they were not simple mistakes.
“Only the authors and approving editors know if they were trying to brainwash all Malaysian students whilst simultaneously trying to belittle Hindus and Sikhs as culturally inferior,” he said adding that they supported the police reports lodged over the issue.–PTI