MIRI - The Sarawak state government will not condone any acts by teachers to use their position as educators to subtlety or forcefully convert non-Muslim students into Islam, said state Minister in charge of Education Datuk Fatimah Abdullah.
Fatimah said teachers, especially those from Penisular Malaysia who had been transferred to Sarawak, could not go around converting students as and when they please.
"Teachers are here to teach, not to convert the students. We in the state government view such issues of religious conversion very seriously as any forced conversion may jeopardise the unity and harmony among Sarawakians," she told The Star on Friday.
Fatimah was commenting on claims by a scrap metal worker from Miri that his 13-year-old daughter was given RM250 (S$92.75) in cash by certain teachers from Peninsular Malaysia to covert to Islam.
"There should be no attempt by anyone to convert minors, especially without the knowledge of the parents.
"Converting a child below 18 without the knowledge or consent of the parents is an offence under the law.
"We always remind our teachers, in particular those from the peninsula who are transferred here, that their main priority is education.
"They must always respect the multiracial and multi-religious harmony that exists in Sarawak," she said. It is understood that the State Education Department and the management of the school in question have started an internal investigation.