DAP national legal bureau chief Ramkarpal Singh today dismissed a report that DAP members at a special meeting on Monday had been told to toe the line regarding the stir over the introduction of khat calligraphy for Year 4 students in vernacular schools, saying nothing could be further from the truth.
DAP members were given free rein to express their views about the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s controversial introduction of jawi calligraphy in vernacular primary schools at a recent party meeting, Ramkarpal said today.
The Bukit Gelugor MP sought to set straight the record after news portal Free Malaysia Today reported an anonymous “DAP leader” claiming members were “told to toe the line” in the ongoing debate over khat, as the calligraphy is called.
According to the report, a DAP leader said that the party’s secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had expressed unhappiness with a group of lawmakers who had “whacked” the policy.
The leader said Lim had reminded the members that they must behave like the government, and that other groups should be taken into consideration as well, not just the Chinese.
According to the leader, Lim said some party leaders had, in recent days, acted in a way “that made it seem like that they were against Jawi itself, which shouldn’t have been the case”.
But Ramkarpal said none of this was true although the leadership had ultimately agreed that an official statement on the matter would be issued.
“In fact, members were given the freedom to express their views on the khat issue without any restrictions and to even suggest possible solutions to the same. None of us was told to watch our words or that we were not entitled to be concerned about the issue,” Ramkarpal said in a statement.
He said he was present during the five-hour meeting held at the DAP national headquarters here Monday night, and denied hearing party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng saying some leaders made “it seem like they were against jawi itself, which shouldn’t have been the case” as reported by the news portal.
“Needless to say, the said leader chose to remain anonymous and not open him or herself to being challenged on the matter.
“It is unfortunate that certain leaders choose to falsely tarnish the image of the party and hide behind the cloak of anonymity,” he added.
Ramkarpal said that he was setting the record straight to correct public misperceptions about the DAP.
Jelutong MP RSN Rayer also denied that party leaders at the meeting had instructed members to toe the line.
In a statement, he said it had been “a very productive and healthy discussion where all elected representatives were invited and given ample opportunity and time to express their views, which they did in a very constructive way”.
“I wish to state that the purpose of the meeting was to hear the views of the elected representatives in a true democratic fashion which DAP always practises.
“It is regrettable that certain leaders have chosen to sabotage the party by making false and baseless allegations deliberately with the intention of tarnishing the reputation of the party to further add to the controversy.”
Yesterday, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said that Chinese and Tamil education groups have agreed to allow khat calligraphy to be taught to year four pupils.
“We have agreed that it is not a problem to introduce khat writing. The intention is to introduce the art of khat calligraphy and not to learn Jawi,” Teo said after the meeting at the Education Ministry in Putrajaya.
The pupils also won’t be tested, she said.
Dong Zong, Jiao Zong, Tamil Foundation and Gabungan Pertubuhan Cina Malaysia were among the groups to meet with Teo.