Here's the latest on the issue, courtesy of Malaysiakini-the online news portal with all the good, bad and ugly facts.
'Remove crucifixes' MP explains himself
Dec 4, 07 4:33pm
The Barisan Nasional MP who suggested that crucifixes be removed from mission schools today explained that he was merely raising public concern.
Syed Hood Syed Edros (BN-Parit Sulong) told reporters in Parliament that he raised the issue in the Dewan Rakyat in order to get clarification from the Education Ministry.
On Oct 29, Syed Hood and Mohamad Aziz (BN-Sri Gading) suggested that crucifixes in mission schools be removed and church influence over these schools be stopped.
Syed Hood told the Dewan Rakyat that he believes that the school board in mission schools are partially administered by foreign churches, for example the Vatican City in Italy.
He said he was "ashamed and disappointed" that schools in an Islamic country like Malaysia are still under the control of churches and that they display icons like crosses and statues.
However, he told reporters today that he did not raise the issue in bad faith but had merely raised the “grouses of the public”.
"As the people's representative, I hear complaints and laments from the public. And every complaint must be given a proper explanation," he said, adding that PAS would play up the issue if no proper explanation was given.
Thanking mission schools for providing education to Malaysians in the early years, Syed Hood said: "Then, Malay parents didn't send their children to mission schools. But now that the country has developed, we have many of them doing so and we need to explain to them when they have doubts."
Explaining that Deputy Education Minister Noh Omar's reply in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday had clarified the matter, Syed Hood said: "The clarification would provide much relief to the people of all races."
Respect for religion
Syed Hood said the issue was played up in emails and blog-posts by those "who did not understand his intention".
"What I said in the Dewan does not reflect Syed Hood the MP. I, as an individual and politician, always respect other races and religions.
"I personally don't have any issue with crosses being displayed in mission schools. We have to respect the religion of others to gain their respect for our religion."
He said his eldest child had attended SMK Convent Batu Pahat when his family lived in the town.
Asked to comment on Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nazri Abdul Aziz's statement that action would be taken against him if a police report is lodged regarding his remarks, Syed Hood said: "We have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst."
He also said that, in life, one has to make mistakes and learn from these, and if he has made one, then it can still be rectified.
'Hisham must explain'
However, Nazri reiterated today that no action would be taken against Syed Hood unless there is a complaint from other MPs.
"I am the (BN) deputy whip. I have to wait for other members to complain," he told reporters today.
Parliamentary Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, at a press conference, urged Education Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to explain if it is true that crucifixes in mission school emblems have been removed and replaced.
"I call on Hishammuddin to explain how many mission schools in the country have replaced the cross in the school emblem, together with a full list of the schools concerned and the relevant particulars on the year of removal and why," he said.
He also explained that he had received complaints in his blog about several mission schools where the crucifixes on their emblems have been replaced.
"Among the schools are St David High School, Malacca (crucifix replaced with a crown), Convent Girls School, Muar (crucifix replaced with a crescent moon), and Methodist Boys Secondary School, Kuala Lumpur," he said.