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Penang Bersatu Youth wants Ramasamy to quit over khat debate

Published:  |  Modified:

The Bersatu youth wing in Penang, also known as Armada, has lashed out at Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy for his views criticising the learning of khat in primary schools.

In a statement today, Armada said that, as state executive councillor for education, Ramasamy should support the steps taken by the Education Ministry to promote the heritage of the Malay language.

"The remarks by Ramasamy not only criticised the effort by Education Minister Maszlee Malik but were also targetted at Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad," the wing claimed.

"You are advised not to be a hidden enemy undermining the government's noble intention to build our national identity," Armada added.

They were referring to Ramasamy's comment on Aug 6, in which he said that “khat might be important to the Malays but such a reception might not be present among non-Malays, although over the years, many non-Malays have acquired competence in Jawi."

Ramasamy said the mandatory imposition of khat learning seems to be the source of the problem, as it brings out the "worst imagined fears" of the non-Malay communities.

The youth wing said Ramasamy's rejection of khat learning shows his "ignorance" about the history and uniqueness of the script.

Armada also took Ramasamy to task over his alleged non-effort in promoting the history and heritage of Bahasa Malaysia to the younger generation.

"Instead, Ramasamy appears more prone towards promoting racial and extremist elements, which he should not be doing as a political leader who holds the position as a state executive councillor for education," it said.

Armada went as far as urging Ramasamy to quit his post, saying the education portfolio is not suitable for him.

The youth wing urged the Penang government to give the education portfolio to someone who deserved the post, and who would be able to develop the state's education in a holistic and comprehensive manner.

"If he continues to hold the post, it would negatively impact the younger generation," it said.

The Education Ministry's plan to introduce khat into the Bahasa Malaysia syllabus for Year Four students come 2020 has kicked up a storm among Chinese and Tamil educationists, and some quarters in Pakatan Harapan.

Subsequently, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said the ministry had reached a consensus with 12 non-governmental organisations that only the art of khat calligraphy - not the learning of the Jawi script - would be introduced in primary schools next year.

Meanwhile, the Bersatu youth wing pointed out that the National Language Act 1963/67 states that aside from Rumi, Jawi is a written script of Bahasa Malaysia.

Section 9 of the act states that Rumi is considered the national language’s script, while the use of the Jawi script will not be prohibited.

Rumi refers to the Malay writing system based on a Romanised script.

"It is true that Malaysia is a multiracial and multireligious country, but there should not be quarters who put Chinese and Tamil calligraphy on the same level as Jawi.

"This is because those two languages have already been promoted in their own original countries," Armada added.

"Protecting and promoting the Jawi script should be the responsibility of all levels of society," it stressed.

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