Dong Jiao Zong says will go on with Chinese congress, but welcomes any discourse on ‘jawi’

A man practises khat calligraphy in Balik Pulau, Penang August 6, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
A man practises khat calligraphy in Balik Pulau, Penang August 6, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 24 — Dong Jiao Zong said today it agrees with PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s call to resolve the ongoing crisis over the teaching of jawi in vernacular schools through dialogue.

The coalition of Chinese schools and educationists said the difference of opinion must be solved through a rational and tolerant discussion, to enhance the inter-ethnic harmony and unity in the country.

However, it said it will proceed with its Chinese Organisation Congress this Saturday with the aim of convincing the government to rescind its decision.

“Therefore, Dong Jiao Zong is ready to discuss with all parties either before or after December 28, 2019,” it said in a statement, referring to the date of the congress.

“This includes with Education Minister Maszlee Malik and groups of various ethnic groups for a conference, and to solve the issue of jawi script rationally, and to increase the understanding between races.”

The group also insisted that the board of each vernacular school should be the one to decide on whether jawi should be taught in its respective schools or not.

Yesterday, Anwar expressed his worry that the congress could exacerbate race relations and politics in Malaysia, adding that the congress will likely result in a pro-jawi congress being organised in response.

He reminded all parties that the jawi script is a part of the nation’s cultural heritage, and the initiative in vernacular schools should be viewed as an attempt to promote cross-cultural awareness, reflecting Malaysia’s diverse society.

Dong Jiao Zong’s congress is set to be followed by another one on Sunday by a group called Gabungan Seni Khat Action Team, which also opposes the teaching of jawi script in vernacular schools.

In August, the Education Ministry confirmed that it would still introduce khat calligraphy as part of the Bahasa Melayu Year Four subject next year as scheduled.

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