KUCHING, Aug 13 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad description of a Chinese education group as racist will not help allay the communities concerns about the introduction of khat in primary schools next year, two Sarawak lawmakers from DAP said today.
Expressing regret that the prime minister chose to respond in such a way, they claimed that Dong Zong, the United Chinese School Committees’ Association, was simply expressing public views about the issue.
“That is why I urge the Education Ministry to properly engage in more dialogues with the relevant stakeholders including Dong Zong, Tamil school educationist and even the public at large to properly allay the concerns of the ‘khat’ issue,” Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said.
Yii said more explanation should be given on the educational aspect of the move and steered away from the topics of race and religion.
Acknowledging that Dong Zong’s claims of Islamisation were inaccurate, he claimed that such concerns should not be callously dismissed as it could represent a large section of the Chinese community.
‘Such discussion must be rationally based on education merits and the educational interest of the students rather than drag in the polemics of race or religion or merely dismissing any concerns or dissatisfaction on account of racism,” he said.
Yii also said Pakatan Harapan ministers must be more vigilant about their portfolios and ensure that they are aware of policies that could have been set in place during the previous Barisan Nasional administration.
Calling for a review of such policies, he urged the new government to be open and consultative.
“Future policies should also focus on important matters and educational reforms to properly equip our children with knowledge, critical thinking and instil proper values that will be beneficial to build the next generation of our country,” Yii said.
Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei said the Chinese community were entitled to express their views and Dr Mahathir, as the PM, should listen.
“The old way of doing things should not be continued,” he added.
In remarks against Dong Zong for opposing the introduction of jawi calligraphy in Chinese schools yesterday, Dr Mahathir had labelled the Chinese education group as racist, saying that it never agreed with the national education policies.
He had claimed apart from Jawi calligraphy; the group had also protested against the setting up of Vision School for fear of Chinese students mixing with other races.