Report: Panellist withdraws from TV talk show on khat after threat by NGO

Examples of khat calligraphy in Balik Pulau, Penang August 6, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Examples of khat calligraphy in Balik Pulau, Penang August 6, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 9 — A member of the Ministry of Education's curriculum drafting committee pulled out from a talk show on khat tonight, reportedly because she was threatened by an NGO opposed to the Malay-Arabic calligraphy.

TV AlHijrah show Analisis Bersama Finaz Yunus said on his Facebook page that S. Vijayaletchumi had to withdraw due to a threat from “a certain NGO who does not want her to appear in the show”.

“For the sake of her safety, the producers accept her decision,” said a post, referring to the professor.

“Her place will be replaced by Prof Datuk Dr Teo Kok Seong,” it added. Teo is a linguistics expert from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Other panellists on the show were National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock and independent preacher Abu Hafiz Salleh Hudin.

The show, hosted by Finaz who previously sparked controversy for her pro-Barisan Nasional leanings, is shown on the Islamic Development Department Malaysia (Jakim) channel on Astro.

Malaysiakini also reported, citing one anonymous source, that she called the show in the afternoon saying she could not attend due to a threat from a group opposed to the introduction of the calligraphy in vernacular schools.

Malay Mail cannot independently verify the report at the time of writing.

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”.

Yesterday, the ministry said the teaching of khat will be optional, and not compulsory as previously assumed, in vernacular schools.

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