Guan Eng: Non-Malay community alarmed by Chinese daily’s report on khat controversy

Lim Guan Eng arrives at DAP’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur August 5, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Lim Guan Eng arrives at DAP’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur August 5, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 — DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng yesterday said that he had met and listened to the grouses of the non-Malay community who, according to him, has been alarmed by Chinese publication Sin Chew Daily’s news report that the Year Four Bahasa Malaysia textbook in Chinese and Tamil schools would include seni khat.

Lim together with other DAP leaders had last night met grassroots leaders to discuss the issue which has seen a variety of reactions, including pushback from the non-Malay community.

“On my return home after four days overseas, I was faced with the unhappiness of the non-Malay community following Sin Chew Jit Poh’s report that the Standard Four Bahasa Malaysia textbook in Chinese and Tamil schools would include seni khat.

“Even though seni khat or Jawi is the source of the language of Bahasa Malaysia, the news report has successfully raised fears that the character and identity of the Chinese and Tamil schools will be affected,” he posted on his official Facebook page last night.

Lim said he has listened to the views of party elected representatives and community activists on the controversy.

“I have also met the prime minister and the education minister and will issue a formal statement later,” he said.

Last night DAP’s Tras assemblyman Chow Yu Hui told reporters that the party meeting was to bring grassroots’ opinion and voices on the khat issue to the forefront.

Chow, who has been vocal about his displeasure with the proposal to introduce khat in the Year Four Bahasa Malaysia textbook, had initiated a statement endorsed by over 100 DAP branches and parliamentary liaison committees in opposing the introduction of khat.

Teresa Kok arrives at DAP’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur August 5, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Teresa Kok arrives at DAP’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur August 5, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

Top DAP leaders, including Lim, deputy chairperson Gobind Singh Deo, national organising secretary Anthony Loke, as well as Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok and Deputy Woman, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh, were pictured arriving for the meeting, which commenced at 8.15pm yesterday.

DAP chairperson Tan Kok Wai, when met by journalists outside the party headquarters, said that members were about to discuss an issue that caused them “heartbreak”.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail promised to address the public’s concern, particularly the ethnic Chinese, on the introduction of khat, or Arabic calligraphy, as part of school syllabus.

She said she will meet Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to discuss the matter, although the latter had on Saturday said the lessons can proceed as part of the Bahasa Melayu subject for Year Four students next year.

Dr Wan Azizah said she has taken note of the concerns and will discuss them with the prime minister even though he had made his statement.

She said khat is a form of art and has nothing to do with religion.

The Education Ministry had in a statement on Friday said the plan will go ahead as scheduled despite objections from DAP leaders, lawmakers and Chinese vernacular education group Dong Jiao Zong.

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