Published in The Malaysian Insider
“Malays have no problems embracing science when it supports their pride, but they won’t even acknowledge the theory of evolution,” a friend remarked after reading the news on proto-Malays. It might sound like a broad sweeping statement, but it is obvious that most Malaysians, and by extension most Malays, have strong disagreement with the subject despite being poorly educated on it.
When asked “Did human beings develop from an earlier species of animals?”, slightly over half of Malaysians answered “false”, a mere 17.4 per cent answered “true” and the rest were unsure. This statistic was then published in the most recent report on scientific and technological awareness by the Malaysian Science and Technology Information Centre (Mastic) in 2008.
In comparison, almost half of those surveyed back in 2004 answered “true”, 21 per cent answered “false”, and the rest unsure — a complete opposite of 2008’s result.
Suspiciously, Mastic decided that the correct answer to the question is “false”, contrary to the answer in the American and European version of the survey. The decision was, according to them, “for many different reasons not to be mentioned in this report.” By their own admission too, this had eliminated any fair international comparison for the survey.
It is no secret that there are some of our medical students overseas who purposely skip their evolutionary biology lectures “in protest.” Steve Jones, emeritus professor of human genetics at University College London, claimed that an increasing number of Muslim students in UK had been boycotting his lectures.
In TV AlHijrah, we have a government-owned (read: taxpayer-backed) Islamic TV channel which freely airs pseudo-scientific and pro-creationism drivel such as the show “Signs of Creator”. This is just one of the many works by cult head Adnan Oktar, more known and idolised in Malaysia by his pen name Harun Yahya. I tried watching it the other day, but lost my patience by the time it got to the “Miracles by Prophets are Proofs that Evolution is Wrong” section.
What in the name of Darwin happened here?