KLSCAH backs Dong Zong’s congress, claims no anti-Jawi agenda

KLSCAH president Datuk Ong Seng Khek (centre) speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur December 24, 2019. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
KLSCAH president Datuk Ong Seng Khek (centre) speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur December 24, 2019. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 24 ― The Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) have voiced its support for the closed-door consultative congress organised by Dong Zong on December 28 this year to discuss the introduction of Jawi into vernacular schools.

Its chairman, Datuk Ong Seng Khek told a press conference today that while it supports the first part of the Cabinet decision on August 19, 2019 allowing every Chinese vernacular primary school (SJKC) the freedom to decide on the introduction of the script, it opposes the second part.

“We however have to oppose the second part of the Cabinet decision on 19 August 2019, which states that the decision in every SJKC will be made solely by the Parent-Teacher Association (PIBG) and parents, completely excluding the school committees of SJKC, which are guardians and owners of schools.

“We stand by Dong Zong, the umbrella body of Chinese school committees and Jiao Zong, the umbrella body of Chinese school teacher associations, in demanding that school committees be included in the decision-making on introducing Jawi script in every SJKC.

“We call upon the Education Ministry to include school committees so that the nation may move on,” said Ong who was responding to a statement made by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Last Friday, the prime minister had cautioned and warned Dong Zong of organising the congress as it may invite retaliation from Malay groups which might demand for the abolishment of vernacular schools.

Ong claimed that the meeting on December 28 is a “consultative meeting” and it is a normal deliberation exercise in civil society.

He stressed that it is not a stand-off between Malays and Chinese saying that no party should misinterpret it as such.

His vice-president Yong Yew Wei added that the congress is a closed door consultative meeting for the Chinese community to discuss the Jawi issue and how to handle it and rejected claims that it is the equivalent of Kongres Maruah Melayu.

“We respect the learning of Bahasa Melayu, we respect Jawi as part of heritage of Malaysia. The consultative meeting on 28 December is not anti-Jawi, not anti-ethnic meeting. I don’t see that it is sensitive and I don’t think Dong Zong at this stage will consider calling it off.

“It’s not at the same level (as Kongres Maruah Melayu). We don’t want to create any form of conflict or discrimination over this kind of consultative meeting. We know unity among Malaysian is sensitive and requires brilliant way to solve.

“All we want is to get the Education Ministry to understand that the Chinese have this feeling not to over emphasise the overlearning of Jawi scrip and that Bahasa Melayu should be learned in Rumi (Roman script),” said Yong.

Ong later pointed that many non-Muslim parents perceive the promotion of the Jawi script may be upgraded to the learning of writing the script and being tested in examinations. However, he added that KLSCAH regretted this perspective.

“We believe such fear can be overcome over time through the building of trust, especially if the Education Ministry will take a more consultative approach with regards to policy changes,” said Ong, adding that KLSCAH acknowledges the importance of the Jawi script as a national heritage.

When it was pointed out that having a congress at the very last minute is pointless because the syllabus will be introduced beginning of next year, Yong said that Education Minister Maszlee Malik should have taken a more proactive approach and responded to Dong Zong’s request for dialogue on the issue.

KLSCAH have confirmed that it will send its representatives to attend the meeting.

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