Dong Zong, Mujahid Agree on Need to De-Escalate Fiery Debate on Jawi Lessons

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Chinese educationist group Dong Zong and minister Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa said today that both of them have agreed on the need to de-escalate the fiery debate on jawi lessons, following a meet earlier.

Consensus:

  • Dong Jiao Zong not anti-Jawi
  • All parties need to de-escalate the situation
  • Jawi is not meant to convert non-Muslims into Islam, not part of Islamisation
  • Collectively fight those who wish to stoke racial tensions by manipulating the issue
  • Have a dialogue and discussion about the issue, being open-minded to accept one another’s views

Both parties agreed that they need to sit down and discuss methods of implementing jawi in schools in a way everyone will agree with, and that the public needs to know that Dong Zong is not opposed to jawi lessons, but only on its implementation.

“After an hour and a half of fruitful dialogue we have come to consensus on several matters pertaining to the issue of jawi.

“Various matters were brought up, but as the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs I cannot make a final decision on the matter as I do not have the capacity to do so,” Mujahid told the press at his office.

“I have not made any commitments as yet per our discussions today, but I promise that we will bring the topics of discussion and the outcomes to the Cabinet before deciding the next course of action,” he added.

The minister in charge of religion also said that both parties have identified five points that need to be addressed over the issue.

Mujahid said the most important point was to recognise that Dong Zong does not oppose jawi, and that all parties need to de-escalate the situation, which has inevitably taken on a racial tone.

“All of us here today agreed that this issue has reached a boiling point and that it needs to be de-escalated to ensure peace and harmony in the country.”

Mujahid added that the third point is to reiterate that the introduction of jawi is not meant to convert non-Muslims into Islam, and it is not part of Islamisation; and for everybody to collectively fight those who wish to stoke racial tensions by manipulating this issue.

“There should be no motive to Islamise. That we both agree on and we also agreed that jawi is part of our national treasure that must be protected. The same goes for other scripts,” Mujahid said.

Finally, all parties need to be able to sit down and have a dialogue and discussion about this issue as well as being open-minded enough to accept one another’s views.

“It was important for us to meet today to know each other’s stand when it comes to the jawi issue,” said Dong Zong’s secretary-general Ng Chai Heng.

“Apart from jawi, we shared topics on racial issues that have been arising lately. It has become alarming and we need to find a way to overcome it.

“We at Dong Zong are always willing to have open discussions on matters concerning us in hopes of sorting out our differences and to preserve racial harmony,” he added.

Dong Zong president Tan Tai Kim thanked Mujahid for taking the time to meet with the Chinese educationists.

He reiterated that the issue must not be used to incite hatred among Malaysians.

Dong Zong is a component of Dong Jiao Zong, an umbrella group of Chinese school boards and teachers.

The matter of introducing Jawi in the vernacular schools has been a contentious one since it was proposed last year.  While the Chinese and Tamil education groups have baulked at the idea, Malay pressure groups have held demonstrations urging the government to go ahead with the proposal.

Non-Malay groups, particularly Dong Jiao Zong, have disagreed and called instead for more discussions between the government and the stakeholders.

Forums have been held to talk about the issue and memorandums of protests have also been submitted to the Education Ministry for further action.