KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 — DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today said that he will appeal for a review of khat lessons in vernacular schools at this Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, as minority protest over the new policy continues.
“I will raise again in this coming Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, a proposal to review the implementation of Jawi illustrations or seni khat in the Standard 4 Bahasa Malaysia textbooks,” he said in a statement.
Lim’s push for a policy review comes amid continued protest over the government’s move to introduce jawi calligraphy lessons to Year Four Chinese and Tamil school pupils, even after Putrajaya agreed to make it optional and reduce the length of the curriculum.
The backlash has since culminated in a petition drive launched by Dong Zong, a private Chinese educationist group, on grounds that the insertion of khat into the Bahasa Melayu syllabus was done without prior consultation.
Critics of the organisation, however, have labelled the petition campaign racist, seeing how Dong Zong had refused to accept Putrajaya’s compromise. Detractors have long accused the educationists of Chinese chauvinism.
Lim said DAP Ministers had voiced in a Cabinet meeting last week the uneasiness felt by non-Malay communities about the policy.
The protest was said to be over the Education Ministry’s move to proceed with khat lessons without prior consultation.
“Following this latest development and further consultations and feedback from the public, I will raise up the matter again in Cabinet this week,” he said.
Lim did not explain if the call for a review would entail scrapping khat from vernacular schools.
The minister also denied that the policy review proposal had anything to do with a minister’s assertion that many Cabinet members were against khat being taught to Chinese and Indian pupils.
Lim had likely referred to a statement issued by Minister in the Prime Minister Department P. Waythamoorthy to Malaysiakini yesterday where he claimed that several ministers shared the concerns of minority communities
However, Waythamoorthy had today denied sending Malaysiakini a statement in which he disagreed with the teaching of khat in Tamil schools.
“This matter will be raised in Cabinet and is not connected as to whether a minister did or did not say that many ministers disagreed with its introduction to Chinese and Tamil primary school,” Lim said.