Perak mufti: Jawi 'opponents' are violating Sedition Act

Modified 5 Jan 2020, 3:29 am

Anyone who questions the right to use Jawi are violating the Sedition Act 1948 and threatening national unity, said Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria.

In a statement yesterday evening, Harussani (photo) argued that the position of Jawi was protected under Section 152 of the Federal Constitution and thus cannot be questioned, as prescribed under Section 3(1)(f) of the Sedition Act 1948.

Section 3(1)(f) defined "seditious tendency" as an act of questioning any "matter, right, status, position, privilege, sovereignty or prerogative established or protected by the provisions of Part III of the Federal Constitution or Article 152, 153 or 181 of the Federal Constitution".

Article 152(1) stated that "The national language shall be the Malay language and shall be in such script as Parliament may by law provide".

Harussani argued that Article 152(1) must be read together with Section 9 of the National Language Act 1963/1967 read: "The script of the national language shall be the Rumi script: provided that this shall not prohibit the use of the Malay script, more commonly known as the Jawi script, of the national language".

In view of this, Harussani said the Jawi script in the eyes of the law is the national language.

Harussani had issued his statement in response to an ongoing controversy over plans to introduce Jawi in the Bahasa Malaysia textbooks from Year 4 onwards.

After some protests, the government had decided to make the teaching of Jawi in vernacular schools optional and that it should be decided by the parent-teacher association (PTA).

Chinese education group Dong Zong - the umbrella body for board of governors of national-type Chinese primary and secondary schools - however, protested on grounds that this was a violation of Section 53 of the National Education Act 1996.

Section 53 stipulated that national-type schools are to be governed by a board of governors. Dong Zong argued that the board should have a say on whether a school was to teach Jawi and the decision should not be left to the PTA alone.

Several groups have accused Dong Zong of attempting denying Malay heritage by attempting to prohibit the proliferation of Jawi and were thus anti-nationalist.

Jawi, which has its roots in Arabic, was used throughout the Malay archipelagos until colonial powers forced the use of Romanised scripts.

In Malaysia, there is a renewed push for Jawi to be used officially, most notably in Kelantan and Pahang which mandated that all businesses adopt Jawi signage boards.

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