Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) has come under fire for its Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies (TITAS) teaching module that made erroneous claims about Hinduism and Sikhism
This comes after photos of two presentation slides bearing UTM's logo went viral on social media.
The module claimed that Islam had introduced civility to the lives of the Hindu community in India.
The slides showed that Hindus preferred to be "dirty", adding that Islam had taught former Hindu followers the importance of cleanliness and healthcare.
It also stated that the teachings of Islam had contradicted the practices of some Hindus as they "believe that dirt on the body is a form of ritual which could lead to the attainment of nirvana".
Another slide claimed that Sikhism is a combination of Hindu and Islam, but its founder had a shallow understanding of Islam.malaysiakini.com
A police report has been lodged against UTM by a NGO for its irresponsible and derogatory teaching module
According to Malaysian Indian Progressive Association (MIPAS) secretary-general S Barathidasan, the chairman of Malaysia Hindu Dharma Mamandram’s Sungai Petani branch made the report.
"MIPAS asks that the UTM authorities work together to conduct more thorough research beforehand and ensure the facts are correct and accurate with Hindu religious organisations, NGOs and academic experts before releasing any teaching modules," Barathidasan said in a statement, as reported by The Star Online.
He added that UTM should immediately remove the said learning modules and has also demanded for a public apology from UTM to all Malaysian Hindus.
Responding to the matter, Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan said that he has already informed UTM's vice chancellor about the misinformation
Kamalanathan said in a Facebook post yesterday, 13 June, that UTM's vice-chancellor has "acknowledged the mistake" after the issue was made known to him.
"He (the vice-chancellor) has also stated that the necessary changes to the module concerned will be corrected expeditiously," Kamalanathan said.
The Hulu Selangor MP also added that the vice chancellor had "totally agreed" to his reminder of ensuring that such errors will be repeated in the future.
A quick check on UTM’s website identifies Professor Datuk Ir. Dr. Wahid Omar as the local institution’s vice-chancellor.
UTM stands as one of the top local universities in Malaysia, boasting of more than 18,000 students and 2,600 academic staffs
In the latest ranking by the London-based education group QS Quacquarelli Symonds, UTM was ranked 63rd in the 2016 instalment of the QS University Rankings: Asia.
There are only five Malaysian universities among the region’s top 100.
UTM continues to consolidate its position as a research university in Malaysia with all 12 subjects ranked top 5 in Malaysia.
In terms of global standing, of the 12 subjects, 3 were ranked in the top 100 (Chemical Engineering, Electrical & Electronics Engineering and Architecture & Built Environment).
In a separate Facebook post, Kamalanathan expressed his utmost disappointment over the inaccurate information about Sikhism and Hinduism fed into the religious studies module at UTM
"I can't help but feel only someone who wilfully and purposefully filled with ill intent would produce such a document," read the Facebook post on Kamalanathan's timeline today.
"If that is the case then I urge the university authorities to investigate and take strong stern action against them."
He stressed, however, that this view was his personal opinion.
Further in his post, Kamalanathan said he will ask the Higher Education Ministry to ensure that all content in the Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies (TITAS) module be vetted by religious experts before they are presented to students.
TITAS has been a compulsory module for all Malaysian tertiary students since the year 2013. Its introduction became a subject of controversy as many claimed that it was an agenda to push Islamic supremacy in the country.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was the Deputy Prime Minister then, sparked controversy when he announced in July 2013 that TITAS will become mandatory for local students, regardless of their religion, at private institutions of higher learning (IPTS) starting in September 2013.
Critics argued that the subject will be on Islam and that students risk being taught by religious fanatics with little exposure to other religions, adding that it was another step forward in the Islamisation of the country
However, Muhyiddin defended the move, saying that the introduction of TITAS as a compulsory subject was meant to streamline the requirements between public and private tertiary institutions.