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PM: We took care of non-Malays, converted Bahasa from Jawi to Roman

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Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government had in the past decided to convert Bahasa Malaysia, which was originally in Jawi, to the Roman script as it had been thoughtful of the needs of the non-Malay community.

Therefore, Mahathir questioned why people were now quarrelling over just three-pages of Jawi khat (calligraphy art) which the government had introduced for the Standard 4 Bahasa Malaysia textbook.

"I'm old. I still remembered the time when we were about to achieve independence.

"The non-Malays at the time found it difficult to learn Jawi so we made the decision to use the Roman script to make it easier for non-Malays.

"Malays still need to learn Jawi because they need to read the Quran. Why do we need to fight? We have given special consideration to the interest of non-Malays," the 94-year-old Langkawi MP told journalists during a visit to his constituency this evening.

Mahathir was responding to a question about the continued objection to khat despite concessions made by the Education Ministry.

Earlier, Mahathir lashed out at Chinese educationist group Dong Zong for claiming that the three-page lessons was a form of "Islamisation" and branded the organisation "racist".

Dong Zong had started a petition asking the government the scrap the plan to introduce khat lessons despite the Education Ministry reducing the planned six pages to three and making the lessons optional.

The khat lessons introduction has seen fierce pushback from the non-Malay community, putting pressure on DAP.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had said he will raise the matter in the cabinet again following continued discontent despite the ministry's concessions.

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