KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — DAP said today it believes that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has no intention of ever banning Chinese educationist group Dong Zong, amid calls for such a move from conservative Malay-Muslims.
In a statement, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) component party said that Dr Mahathir has “adopted an open approach to freedom of expression” since he was elected prime minister, as long as nobody is being threatened with punishment, public disorder, injury, or hurt by lies.
“Tun Dr Mahathir has even given instructions that no one should be arrested or prosecuted for severely criticising him as prime minister, unlike the practice of the previous prime minister.
“Therefore, DAP believes that the prime minister has no intention of banning Dong Zong,” DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said here.
The Bagan MP and finance minister also said the party disagrees with any suggestions to ban Dong Zong.
This comes as Gerakan Pengundi Sedar, a group linked to Islamists group Ikatan Musliming Malaysia (Isma), launched a petition calling for the government to ban Dong Zong, claiming it is a “racist organisation” for opposing khat lessons in vernacular schools.
However, Lim said DAP also disagrees with the prime minister’s assertion that Dong Zong is “racist”.
“In fulfilling its role to protect Chinese education, Dong Zong has attracted criticisms and condemnation, but Dong Zong has never threatened the rights and security of other Malaysians.
“Instead Dong Zong respects the Federal Constitution position of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language, whilst other languages can be freely taught and learnt,” Lim said.
Earlier today, Dr Mahathir doubled down on his criticism of Dong Zong being “racist”, arguing that its focus has always been singular to fight only for Chinese education.
However, when asked if Dong Zong ought to be banned, the prime minister said he does not know as it is up to the police to decide.
On Saturday, the organisation’s chairman Tan Tai Kim said a petition would be launched to oppose the teaching of khat calligraphy in vernacular schools, citing potential fears of Islamisation.