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COMMENT | Pahang Jawi signage row – DAP leadership's party-first, not principle-first stand

S Thayaparan

Published
Modified 2 Aug 2020, 11:26 pm

"If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."

- Attributed (disputed) to Cardinal Richelieu

COMMENT | In defending Tras assemblyperson Chow Yu Hui's lawsuit that challenged a mandatory directive to include Jawi script on signboards, DAP Youth secretary Eric Teh said: "We should oppose any cultural hegemony instead of surrendering to it, and I think (DAP Youth chief) Howard Lee (who criticised Chow) has forgotten this."

Let us begin with the basics. Culture is a one-way street in Malaysia. The non-Malays have no choice but to learn about Malay culture while the Malays get to retreat to a mainstream political system that claims their culture, economic survival, and political system are under threat because of the non-Malays - that generally means the Chinese community.

Therefore, this is not only a question about cultural hegemony but also of political expediency. I have no idea why the Pahang state government is adamant that Jawi is to be incorporated on all signage in the state, even business operations. After all, does the state government need Jawi signage to be part of non-halal businesses that revolve around the sale and distribution of alcohol?

As it stands in this country, certain words are verboten, by law, to the non-Malay community, where books are banned and people hauled up for sedition or hurting the sensitivities of others. This idea that the Tras assemblyperson and his lawsuit is attracting more trouble for the DAP is, well, ludicrous.

The fact of the matter is that Malay power structures have always demonised the DAP because it serves a political purpose. The old maverick and two-time prime minister admitted this and has been trying to walk back on earlier strategic decisions now that he needs the DAP. All this is a matter of public record...

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