Dong Zong meeting not anti-Jawi — KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall

Signature. — file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

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KUCHING, Dec 25: The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) has emphasised that the upcoming closed-door consultative meeting organised by Dong Zong on Dec 28 is not a stand-off between Malays and Chinese.

In a press statement yesterday, its president Datuk Ong Seng Khek explained the meeting between Chinese non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is to discuss the introduction of Jawi script in Chinese-medium national type primary schools’ (SJKCs) Standard 4 Bahasa Melayu textbook.

“We call upon all Malaysians to see the Dec 28 consultative meeting as a normal deliberation exercise in civil society, which will hopefully bring us closer to a solution acceptable to all.

“It is not a stand-off between Malays and Chinese and must not be misinterpreted as such by any party,” he stressed.

Ong was responding to a statement by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who cautioned Dong Zong about organising the meeting as it may invite retaliation from Malay groups which might demand the abolishment of vernacular schools.

Acknowledging the important role of Jawi script as part of the country’s national heritage, Ong pointed out that while it supports the first part of the Cabinet’s decision on Aug 19, 2019 allowing every SJKC to decide whether the introduction of Jawi script will be taught, it opposed the second part.

“Every school may have its own unique conditions and decentralising decision making is most wise.

“We however oppose the second part of the Cabinet decision which states that the decision in every SJKC will be made solely by the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and parents, completely excluding the school committees of SJKCs, which are guardians and owners of schools,” he emphasised.

As such, he reaffirmed that the Chinese education group stands by Dong Zong, the umbrella body representing Chinese school committees and Jiao Zong, the umbrella body representing Chinese school teacher associations, in demanding that school committees be included in the decision-making on introducing Jawi script in every SJKC.

“We call upon the MoE (Ministry of Education) to include school committees (in the education policy changes) so that the nation may move on.”

Ong also expressed regret that the poor promotion of the introduction of Jawi script in school curriculum has led to many non-Muslim parents including Christian communities in the two Borneon states to feel apprehensive as they fear it may eventually be upgraded to learning of writing the script and being tested on this in examinations.

“This may burden SJKC students who have to learn three languages. (But) We believe such fear can be overcome over time through the building of trust, especially if the MoE will take a more consultative approach with regards to policy changes.

“We fully affirm and uphold Bahasa Melayu as the national language with Rumi as the official script as per Article 152 of the Federal Constitution and Section 9 of the National Language Act. We fully support all efforts to advance SJKC students’ command of Bahasa Melayu,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dong Jiao Zong is scheduled to hold a ‘Chinese Organisation Congress’ this Saturday, citing unhappiness with the latest teaching guidelines for the Jawi script lessons in vernacular schools. — DayakDaily