UniMAP: Investigation underway into Zakir Naik exam question

PETALING JAYA: An investigation into an exam question promoting controversial preacher Zakir Naik is underway, says Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP). The university said in a statement on its Facebook page on Monday (Dec 30) that an official statement will be released as soon as all the information is gathered. “We urge everyone to stop any form of provocation that could lead to disharmony and allow UniMAP to conduct a thorough investigation, ” it said. The university added that it would be reviewing its vetting system for exam questions for the subject to ensure lecturers are more aware of the sensitivities of the different races and religions. It said that as a multiracial university, UniMAP views the matter seriously and will focus on unity and tolerance. The question is believed to be part of the university’s Ethnic Relations Course, and the test was held on Sunday (Dec 29). The question reads: “Zakir Naik is one of the icons of the Islamic world, he is very active in spreading true Islam and following the Quran and Sunnah of Rasullah SAW. He is able to reason and to answer every question that is asked to him. However, in Malaysia, he is no longer allowed to deliver speeches. In your opinion, as a Malaysian, why does this happen?” The answers provided were: (1) Malaysians do not bother getting actual information; (2) Malaysians are sensitive and feel threatened for no reason; 3) Malaysians just follow the crowd without verifying any information; or 4) Malaysians are ignorant about their own religion. The multiple-choice question allows the student to choose more than one answer. Pictures of the exam paper with the question have gone viral on social media. In August, Zakir was banned from delivering public speeches in Malaysia after he insulted Malaysians of Chinese and Indian descent, and is known for criticising other religions. He was at the recent Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019, saying he was there at the invitation of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Meanwhile, the Education Ministry’s Higher Education Department said it will not intervene in the matter, citing the principle of “autonomy with accountability”. “We will not interfere in the conduct of academic programmes as we hold to the concept of autonomy with accountability. “Through this, the university is responsible to all stakeholders, including students and the public, ” said the department in a statement earlier Monday.

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