Malay groups mount ‘coffin’ protest to bury controversial dual-language programme

Several Malay language activists rallied to demand the government abolish a new programme aimed to improve English fluency in national schools, Kuala Lumpur, March 26, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Several Malay language activists rallied to demand the government abolish a new programme aimed to improve English fluency in national schools, Kuala Lumpur, March 26, 2016. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 ― Several Malay language activists and education groups rallied in the city centre today demanding the government abolish a new programme aimed at improving English fluency in national schools.

The gathering of some 70 people drew stares from pedestrians and passing motorists as they posed with placards, banners and even a mock coffin outside the Masjid Jamek LRT station here to signal their intent to bury the Dual-Language Programme (DLP) introduced this year that gives students the option to study several subjects in English or Bahasa Malaysia.

Most of the demonstrators were youngsters believed to be from the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (Abim). The life-sized brown-coloured cardboard coffin appeared to be their brainchild; Malay words “ABIM tolak DLP” [ABIM rejects DLP] and “Keranda 152” [coffin 152] were painted in white on its surface.

Several prominent public figures were also in attendance, among them national laureate Datuk Baharuddin Zainal popularly known as Baha Zain, as well as opposition politicians.

PKR vice-president and Batu MP Chua Tian Chang was spotted in the gathering, alongside PKR MP for Batu Gantang Idris Ahmad and DAP’s former Selangor assemblyman Ronnie Liu.

The street protest started about 2.30pm under the watchful eyes of several police officers and dispersed about 4pm without incident.

A second rally is expected to be held in the city on April 9 at Dataran Merdeka, Professor Emeritus Shaharir Mohamad Zain, chairman of the Gerakan Mansuh PPSMI group, had previously announced.

Abim secretary-general Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz had said they expect around 5,000 people to attend the first rally and over 20,000 for the second.

National Education Action Council chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Borhan claimed that Malay students would be “victimised” by the DLP.

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