KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng called on Malaysians to unite and move forward, following the Education Ministry’s announcement today that khat lessons for vernacular primary schools will begin next year as planned.
“Let us work together with full respect for diversity and appreciation for each other’s differences that makes us stronger and more successful.
“This decision by Cabinet yesterday that the introduction of seni khat or jawi illustrations will be made optional, will not please everyone, including those from the non-Malay community, who requested that the implementation be deferred pending consultation with all the stakeholders in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
“However, the Cabinet’s decision yesterday that it is not compulsory but optional and not to be tested in exams, would hopefully allow Malaysians to move forward,” Lim, who is also finance minister said in a statement.
Earlier today, Education Minister Maszlee Malik, in announcing that khat lessons for vernacular primary schools will begin next year as planned, said that the Cabinet, however, decided that there would be only three pages in the textbook, dedicated to the said art form.
Originally, khat was to take up six out of 164 pages of the new Bahasa Malaysia (BM) Year Four textbook, as part of language art activities.
Maszlee announced that the Cabinet had also decided to grant teachers the option on the method of delivery for introducing khat calligraphy in their classes.
The Simpang Renggam MP added that khat for vernacular schools was not his initiative but a continuation of the policy started by the previous Barisan Nasional administration.
The Education Ministry’s plan to introduce khat, a form of Arabic-Malay calligraphy, as part of the national language syllabus for Year Four students sparked a strong reaction from mostly minority communities, many of whom saw the move as a subliminal attempt at “Islamisation”.
News portal Free Malaysia Today reported previously, that up to 35,000 angry Pakatan Harapan (PH) supporters, mostly ethnic Chinese, had flooded the Facebook pages of DAP leaders to vent against the policy and threatened to vote the party out in the next general election.
A DAP MP told Malay Mail last Sunday that there is simmering tension within the party ranks, and that many are perturbed by the national leadership’s “silence” over the issue.
DAP leaders eventually held a closed-door meeting to discuss the matter.