An umbrella body of Chinese youth groups has condemned Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for his remarks labelling Dong Zong as a racist group.
The youth wing of The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong Youth) denounced the prime minister's remarks as “totally irresponsible”.
"We urge Mahathir to not look at local issues from a race perspective or to label those bringing up the issues as racists. As the prime minister for all, he should listen to all parties and be inclusive. "
The group consisting youth wings from the Chinese Assembly Halls in 13 states in the country issued a joint statement today to show their support towards Dong Zong's efforts to fight for the rights of Chinese education since independence.
While stressing that Dong Zong never criticised other races, the group requested politicians to stop manipulating race and religion issues which could create cracks among the people and split apart the country.
"In safeguarding the right to learn the own mother tongue language as protected by the constitution, Dong Zong never depreciated the language and culture of other races, " said the group in a statement issued today.
However, the group criticised the prime minister’s comments regarding the education issue and questioned if the new Malaysia allows the freedom of expression.
The Chinese youth group stressed that the change of government in GE14 was the result of the people rejecting racist politics and one-party system. The Pakatan Harapan government was reminded to uphold the principle of a multicultural society.
On the khat issue, the group stressed they hold the same position as Dong Zong, whereby they didn’t oppose the introduction of khat in schools.
"In fact, same as Dong Zong, we never oppose Jawi writings and khat."
However, they viewed the Education Ministry’s plan to implement khat writing lessons in Jawi into the Year 4 Bahasa Malaysia syllabus and textbook as inappropriate.
"We feel that Bahasa Malaysia and Jawi are two totally different writing systems.
“For students, Jawi is a totally new writing style and will burden the students and decrease their time to learn, manage and improve Bahasa Malaysia. In the end, their level of Bahasa Malaysia will be affected."
However, the group agreed with the measures taken by the ministry since 2015, when it introduced khat lessons in the Year 5 Bahasa Malaysia textbook by presenting it together with translations in other languages.
The group believed that all parties should discuss the khat issue rationally, and should respect different opinions in the multi-ethnic and democratic Malaysian society.
The government had planned to implement khat lessons in the Year 4 Bahasa Malaysia textbook for all students.
The Education Ministry had since reduced the planned six pages of lessons to three and made learning khat optional, but unhappiness in the non-Malay community has persisted.