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Large DAP group objects to 'khat' in vernacular school syllabus

Published:  |  Modified:

A group of 138 DAP grassroots office bearers, including 13 state assemblypersons, have urged DAP cabinet members to object to plans to introduce "khat" or calligraphy art in the Year 4 Bahasa Malaysia curriculum for vernacular schools.

In a joint statement, the group said vernacular school students are already learning "three languages and three writing systems". Adding "khat" into the mix would make it "three languages and four writing systems", said the group.

The Education Ministry in a statement last Thursday explained that the introduction of khat was to foster beautiful writing.

The ministry stressed that subject matter did not pertain to Jawi scripts and students were not assessed on it in examinations.

"We do not disagree that 'khat' has artistic value, but people should be encouraged to appreciate it on their own and not made into policy," said the group.

The group claimed that the introduction of "khat" as an attempt to institutionalise and politicise the Jawi script.

Citing the mandatory use of Jawi script on signboards in Kelantan and Terengganu, the group said similar measures are being institutionalised in Pahang and Malacca.

"This is manifesting in many ways... once Chinese and Tamil schools add 'khat' into the curriculum, it would be a case of 'the boiling frog'.

"Those with an agenda might seize the opportunity to introduce Jawi at all levels... Should Jawi be institutionalised, it will tear apart Malaysia's social fabric," said the group.

The group said DAP cabinet member must protect Malaysia's multi-ethnic nature and not feel compelled to follow BN's "one race, one language and one culture" narrative.

"DAP's core is to seek a just society, where multi-culturalism is celebrated... Our values must manifest itself in policy and not just repeat MCA's mistakes," said the group.

"Khat" will be introduced next year. According to Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching, this policy was decided in 2016 by the previous administration.

Of the 162 pages for the Bahasa Malaysia textbook, six pages will be dedicated to "khat".

The 13 state assemblypersons who signed the joint-statement are Chow Yu Hui (Tras), Chiong Yoke Kong (Tanah Rata), Chong Zhe Min (Keranji), Lee Chin Chen (Bilut), Tan Hong Pin (Skudai), Ee Chin Li (Tangkak), Cheo Yee How (Perling), Yeo Tung Siong (Pekan Nenas), Ng Yak Howe (Bentayan), Chew Peck Choo (Yong Peng), Cheah Pou Hian (Jelapang), Violet Yong (Pending) and Leong Yu Man (Triang).

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