Amid tense discourse over the introduction of khat for the Bahasa Malaysia primary school syllabus, a group of Chinese association leaders have reportedly suggested that all schools learn about the calligraphic arts of the various races.
This was revealed by independent history researcher Tang Ah Chai, who said this was proposed to Education Minister Maszlee Malik during a meeting on Aug 1.
Among those said to be in attendance at the meeting were Dong Zong deputy president Tan Yew Sing and political analyst Wong Chin Huat.
According to Tang, the groups made the proposal while discussing how the introduction of khat would affect Chinese vernacular schools.
"To avoid public perception that the Education Ministry implements policies unilaterally, it is better if all schools can learn about the intricacies of other languages.
"For example, Chinese vernacular schools can learn khat, while national schools can learn Chinese calligraphy.
"This approach can eradicate concerns among the Chinese community while aiding cultural exchange," Tang (photo) wrote in a Facebook post today.
The researcher said he does not personally feel that introducing khat for the Bahasa Malaysia syllabus would jeopardise Chinese education.
He cautioned, however, that the issue cannot be taken lightly as there is growing discontent among the Chinese community.
Tang pointed to the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) not being recognised yet and Chinese language signboards in Selangor being taken down.
As such he said, the community questioned the need to introduce khat.
Other suggestions raised during the meeting with Maszlee, Tang said, were to postpone the introduction of khat and replace it with the learning of pantun (Malay poetic rhymes) in order to strengthen the teaching of Malay.
There was also a suggestion to make learning Jawi an elective subject for those interested instead of it being compulsory.
At present, the Education Ministry plans to introduce six pages regarding khat and Jawi writing in for the Standard 4 Bahasa Malaysia syllabus.
Maszlee had told Malaysiakini the ministry's move was not aimed at "establishing Islamisation in vernacular schools".