KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — The United Chinese School Committees Association (Dong Zong) has initiated a petition to oppose the teaching of khat in vernacular schools citing alleged Islamisation, despite the Education Ministry assuring the subject will not be tested.
Its chairman, Tan Tai Kim said the petition has the support of several Chinese associations, education boards, parent-teacher associations, alumni groups and also Tamil education groups, against the Malay-Arabic calligraphy.
“We made this decision based on research done by scholars, that khat is actually a stylistic writing which promoted Quran and spread Islamic teachings.
“Not only it is unacceptable among the non-Muslim society, it is also in violation of Article 12 (3) of the Federal Constitution,” said Tan in a statement.
Article 12(3) reads, “No person shall be required to receive instruction in or to take part in any ceremony or act of worship of a religion other than his own”.
“The Federal Constitution clearly guarantees freedom of religious belief and that people must not be forced to accept any religious teachings,” Tan added.
Tan also pointed out, because Malaysia is a country which follows a secular system, it must follow the secular rule of law.
“This social contract [made] at the time of independent statehood was the tacit understanding of various ethnic groups, and it also safeguards the interest of the people and maintain social harmony,” he said.
Through the petition, the association will demand for the Education Ministry revoke their decision for khat to be taught in national primary schools and retain the introduction of khat alongside Chinese and Tamil writings for the Standard Five Bahasa Malaysia syllabus.
“We support the Education Ministry in promoting cross-ethnic and cultural exchanges in schools, but this must be in line with the actual situation practiced in the schools,” Tan said.
He also reminded the government to abandon old thinking, and instead demonstrate their determination to reform, emphasising on the importance of policies.
The disputes surrounding the decision to introduce khat in the national school syllabus has forced the Education Ministry to reduce khat lessons in Standard Four Bahasa Malaysia textbook from six pages to three, and have made lessons optional.