The fear of Islamisation is the reason Dong Jiao Zong is opposing the teaching of Jawi in schools, a Jawi forum was told.
The Chinese education group’s spokesman, Ng Chai Heng, said he has heard stories of how non-Malay pupils were converted to Islam discreetly.
However, Ng said he has no proof of the Islamisation through Islamic education.
“I have heard it, but I have not seen it,” he told the Jawi Forum: Mutual Understanding, organised by Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM) at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese assembly hall yesterday.
“This is not about the fear of teaching Jawi (at vernacular schools). Let me be clear about this, we are concerned and worried about Islamisation.”
He said the issue has also been blown out of proportion by some parties and called on Putrajaya to solve the issue immediately.
“The issue has dragged on for too long and now it has been blown out of proportion with some parties making unnecessary remarks about it.
“I think the party that is in power should address this matter immediately. We at Dong Zong appreciate what the ministry has done. There are efforts that have been done to correct the issue, but we feel that it has not been resolved,” Ng told the audience.
The issue has fuelled tension among educationists, school officials and the public after the government announced a plan to introduce jawi script at the basic level for Primary Four vernacular school pupils beginning next year.
Ng explained that minority communities have no issues of learning the jawi scripture as it had already been introduced within history lessons within a multicultural context.
However, Ng explained that the introduction of khat, which is stated in school history books is one of the representations of Islam, has drawn fear from parents of Islamisation within the classrooms.
“For Dong Zong, we accepted already the existing Year 5 history lessons that include the multiracial and multicultural context of the jawi, Chinese and Tamil calligraphy, and it was introduced for years.
“Have you heard Dong Zong or Tamil associations oppose it?
“So, you cannot blame them, but it is our responsibility to make it clear to the public,” he said.
Ng also said that the matter could have been resolved earlier if the Ministry of Education had considered the vernacular schools’ management board (LPS).
“If you take for example, if the Ministry of Education had first stated that LPS is one of the parties able to decide on the matter, I think the problem would be solved,” he said.
However, he praised the MoE for adapting to their needs several times compared to the initial decision to introduce khat.
Tamil Foundation president K Arumugam also agrees with Ng that the fear of jawi stems from parents who are concerned over Islamisation within the classrooms.
Arumugam, however, suggested that the jawi debacle is not the biggest problems faced by the country’s education system and urged the MoE as well as Malaysians to have an honest discussion of having an inclusive agenda within the education system.
Among other speakers at the forum were Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim) president Faisal Aziz and Ikram deputy president Badlishah Sham who both echoed the need for further discourse among different groups to strengthen unity and understanding.
Faisal also stated the fear of Islamisation should be discussed with facts and accurate information in the future.
MoE deputy director-general Habibah Abdul Rahim was also present as a speaker at the forum.
Ng also explained that the “congress” as touted by many that will be held by the association this coming Saturday is merely a closed-door meeting.
“The meeting this weekend is not a congress. Please don’t call it a congress. It is just a closed-door meeting to discuss this issue.”
Malay groups have warned Dong Jiao Zong against organising the “congress”.
They warned of riots if Dong Jiao Zong proceeded with its plan.
The Malay civil society groups also lodged a police report against Dong Jiao Zong.
Perkid Kebajikan Darul Islah Malaysia chief Masridzi Sat lodged the report on behalf of the groups.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad also warned Dong Jiao Zong that its insistence on holding the gathering could lead to other repercussions, such as Malay pressure groups reasserting their calls for vernacular schools to be shut down.
PKR president Anwar Ibrahim also called on Dong Jiao Zong and other factions, including Malay organisations, not to hold any event on the issue.
However, Dong Jiao Zong is going ahead with its meeting at the New Era College in Kajang tomorrow.
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