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Anti-Jawi congress by Chinese education group could lead to tit-for-tat action: Mahathir

Anti-Jawi congress by Chinese education group could lead to tit-for-tat action: Mahathir

Primary students wait for their parents after school on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Jul 2, 2018. (Photo: AP/Yam G-Jun)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Friday (Dec 20) that plans by education group Dong Jiao Zong to hold a Chinese Organisation Congress against Jawi script lessons in vernacular schools could result in tit-for-tat action from the Malay community.

Dr Mahathir said that the Malay community could respond by organising their own congress to talk about closing down Chinese vernacular schools.

“That will only result in the Malays having their congress and talking about closing down Chinese schools and all that. You do that kind of thing you will get a reaction," Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying in the Malay Mail.

The High Court in George Town ruled last month that the Jawi script is part of Bahasa Malaysia, the national language, and can be taught in Chinese and Tamil schools.

READ: Malaysia’s educationists against teaching of jawi calligraphy in vernacular schools as controversy rages

When asked if the congress should be stopped, Dr Mahathir said that Malaysia is a free country that allows freedom of speech. 

“But we also have to be sensitive towards other races living in this country," he continued. 

"If you start making attacks against the other races or going against the constitution, the end result will be chaos, instability and everybody will be poor and we will see a lot of Malaysians migrating to other countries."

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019, Dr Mahathir said it is important for all sides to be considerate towards other people’s feelings.

READ: Commentary: Why Malaysia’s debate on race, education and vernacular schools will rage on

Dr Mahathir also warned about the consequences of people going against each other.

“If you do this, like in many countries, they take to the streets and fight each other, throw tear gas and all that. 

"If you want Malaysia to be like that, go ahead," he added. 

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