According to Negeri Sembilan YBAM chairman Liaw Fern Chan, the three Buddhist students societies hope to get the approval of the school heads without any hassle, following the cabinet decision to allow school heads to approve the formation of non-Muslim clubs and societies.
Liaw told the Sin Chew Daily that in response to the YBAM call, the schools had tried to apply for the establishment of Buddhist societies two or three years ago, but failed after encountering various problems, including the rejection of approval by the state education department.
"Even when there are teachers willing to supervise the proposed societies, the application was rejected by the education authority," he said.
Liaw said that the three national secondary schools have applied to the school heads with the help of the YBAM after the cabinet issued a new ruling requiring only the approval of school heads for such societies to be formed.
He also said that the Buddhist society of another secondary school in Negeri Sembilan, which was set up many years ago, was earlier ordered to close, but the problem had been solved, and the society would resume operation soon.
According to Liaw, the YBAM has been organizing several activities in the past three years, including training for members, photocopying books and materials and conducting group recreational activities.
He said that only a few schools in Negeri Sembilan had set up Buddhist societies. Some were established long time ago while some were subsidiary branches of the Chinese society.
Liaw urged that all Buddhist societies serving as a subsidiary branch of other society to take the opportunity to apply for the establishment of Buddhist societies in schools. Those who encounter problems may contact the YBAM Negeri Sembilan state liaison committee.
School head: The establishment of a Buddhist society should not be a problem
During an interview with the school head of one of the three secondary schools facing obstacles in applying the establishment of Buddhist society, the school head said that he had not received any application to set up a Buddhist society yet since he took over the office five years ago.
He said that his school has always encouraged Buddhist students to participate in Buddhist activities and they have also made arrangement to send students to help in temples as volunteers. He thinks that perhaps, that is why students think there is no need to set up a Buddhist society in the school.
"In the past it is indeed a requirement to obtain the approval from the state education department to set up a Buddhist society. But the cabinet has simplified the procedures and now, it only requires the approval of the school heads. Although I've not received any official directive from the Education Ministry, it should not be a problem if students want to set up a Buddhist society," he said.