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DAP says it has reached a ‘united position’ over khat calligraphy controversy

DAP says it has reached a ‘united position’ over khat calligraphy controversy

Former Malaysian transport minister Anthony Loke. (File photo: Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Democratic Action Party (DAP) said on Tuesday (Aug 6) that it has reached a “united position” regarding the controversy surrounding the teaching of khat calligraphy in vernacular schools.

DAP unity has been under the spotlight after some members of the Pakatan Harapan component party publicly opposed the decision by Putrajaya, with over 100 party branches and parliamentary liaison committees endorsing a statement against the policy.

Mr Anthony Loke, the organising secretary of the Chinese-majority party said on Tuesday that DAP’s stand will be conveyed to the Cabinet soon.

Mr Loke, who is also the Transport Minister, said DAP party members discussed the matter at a meeting on Monday. "That has always been our approach. Whenever we are faced with an issue, we will discuss among ourselves," he said.

"We come to a conclusion, a united position and then from that, we will send feedback to the Cabinet," he told reporters, without elaborating.

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

Last week, the Education Ministry said that khat calligraphy - a form of jawi calligraphy with Malay and Arabic elements - will be taught to Year Four students in Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools as part of the Malay language syllabus beginning next year.

The decision caused an uproar among the local Chinese community, which is known to be protective of its mother tongue education.

Twelve associations, led by prominent Chinese educationist groups United Chinese School Teachers’ Association and United Chinese School Committees’ Association, have said they disagree with the measure as it would not help students improve their Malay language skills.

Senior DAP leaders, including Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching and Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong, have defended the policy but many grassroots leaders hold a contrary view.

Following Monday’s meeting, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng stressed that the party was still united.

READ: Commentary - Race, religion and rhetoric ramp up in New Malaysia

THOSE AGAINST KHAT CALLIGRAPHY ARE DESCENDANTS OF COLONIAL MASTERS: PAS

In a Facebook post on Monday, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia’s (PAS) President Hadi Awang hailed efforts to revive jawi script as noble and pure.

Parti Islam Se-Malaysia leader Abdul Hadi Awang. (File photo: Bernama)

He said those opposing the jawi script were clearly "descendants or representatives" of colonial masters.

"One must realise that the coloniser carried out an agenda to eliminate jawi script as part of its colonial agenda, and its enmity towards Islam and its followers," he said.

Mr Hadi also claimed that the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, as well as former DAP leader Tan Seng Giaw were able to read and write in jawi.

This proved that jawi script has a place in politics, economy and society, he argued. 

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