Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa today said stern action must be taken against the education official who issued a circular claiming Ponggal was haram (forbidden) under Islam as advised by the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim).
He said this was because Jakim had never said it was “haram” to attend the Tamil harvest festival but instead, it had said it was permissible for Muslims to take part in the celebration as long as the Islamic ethics were observed.
“The ministry had asked for our opinion in June, it was to allay the concern of Muslim parents, so we gave our opinion and it was up to them on how they craft the circular.
“The letter (by the education official) is distorted. You (the official) used words such as ‘terpaksa’ (forced to) and ‘haram’, come on lah. We said Ponggal is permissible, so long as Islamic ethics are observed.
“We demand stern action on the person who wrote the letter and later blamed Jakim for making the decision. Have some pity on me and Jakim,” he said.
The letter Mujahid was referring to was an education ministry circular issued on the eve of Ponggal to all school heads.
The Jan 13 circular stated that Jakim had made Ponggal “haram”, especially the act of boiling milk, which was the main event of the Tamil harvest festival.
It was written by the ministry’s education and teaching institutions deputy registrar Adzman Talib. He has been elevated to deputy director-general of the ministry today, deputy education minister Teo Nie Ching revealed on Facebook.