Amid Jawi Backlash, Kit Siang Warns Against Falling for Racial Conspiracy in Education Reform

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DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang said Malaysian’s must be careful not to fall into the trap of conspirators who want to pit race against race, religion against religion to arouse suspicion, distrust and hatred.

Firdaus Latif

The MP for Iskandar Puteri said his comments recently on learning the Jawi script was taken out of context, and could be used to disrupt national harmony and to regain political power and work against our multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.

“I said that ‘the pressing importance in Malaysia with regard to education’ is to introduce reforms so that Malaysian students in international assessments, whether in TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) or PISA (Programme for International Students Assessment) can attain above global average results and be ranked in the top one-third of world countries instead of being placed in the lower one-third bracket as is the position today,” Lim said in a statement.

“I have never said that one must learn Jawi to be a Malaysian – all I said was learning Jawi did not ‘make me any less of a Chinese’, and may have helped in making me more of a Malaysian.

“We should be discussing educational reform proposals to make Malaysia a top world-class nation in education,” added the 78-year-old.

Yesterday, Lim said he learnt to read the Jawi script when he was detained under the Internal Security Act and that it did not make him a traitor to the Chinese race, amid some public unease over teaching khat, or Arabic calligraphy, in vernacular schools.

Instead, the veteran lawmaker said it made him feel more Malaysian.

Lim took umbrage towards an article circulating with the headline ‘Learn Jawi to be More Malaysian’ which prompted today’s response.

“Just as a Malay who can speak and write in Chinese does not make him or her less of a Malay in Malaysia, a Chinese who knows Jawi does not make him or her less of a Malaysian Chinese.

“But there must be no compulsion in the learning of another tongue!” he added. – MMO