Bishop wants Sultan to intervene on Easter leave issue

A file picture of Bishop Bernard Paul (right) shaking hands with Sultan Ibrahim (centre) during a luncheon event earlier this year.

A file picture of Bishop Bernard Paul (right) shaking hands with Sultan Ibrahim (centre) during a luncheon event earlier this year.

JOHOR BARU: A Facebook posting by a bishop, appealing to the Sultan of Johor to look into the cases of Christian teachers whose leave applications for Easter this Sunday were rejected, has gone viral on social media.

Malacca-Johor diocese Bishop Bernard Paul had shared on Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar’s Facebook, seeking the Ruler’s intervention to remind education authorities of the teachers’ right to apply for leave for such religious occasions.

Easter marks Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

Bishop Bernard wrote: “Your Highness, I would like to bring to your attention of instances of denial of worship and religious freedom in Johor.

“The Catholic and Christian teachers have had their leave applications rejected by the school heads for the coming Easter Sunday.”

Bishop Bernard explained that Easter was central to the Christian faith: “My people and I have only one desire that is for your kind intervention to remind the education authorities to respect the provisions that are already there for special religious leave applications.”

A snapshot of the post, which is viewable only among users under his friends’ list, has been circulating on Facebook and WhatsApp.

Many people commended Bishop Bernard for standing up for the teachers.

However, Bishop Bernard declined to say the number of teachers who were affected. He merely said he was advised to put up the posting to highlight his concerns.

Johor Education, Information Entrepreneurial Development and Co-operative Committee chairman Md Jais Sarday said he was looking into the matter and that there would be a discussion with Education Department officials soon.

“So far, three schools including a primary Convent school, a secondary Convent and a Chinese vernacular school had requested that Easter Sunday be declared a holiday.

“I will discuss with the department and clarify the matter soon, including on matters about the leave applications from these Christian teachers,” he said yesterday. – The Star Online

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