Jawi meet pauses as Malay delegation enters, includes actress Ellie Suriarty

Actress Ellie Suriaty Omar (centre) attends the National Jawi Congress in Petaling Jaya December 29, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Actress Ellie Suriaty Omar (centre) attends the National Jawi Congress in Petaling Jaya December 29, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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PETALING JAYA, Dec 29 — Five Malays, including local actress Ellie Suriaty Omar, caused a stir at the National Jawi Congress when they entered the Crystal Crown Hotel ballroom here this morning midway.

The event, organised by a group known as the Seni Khat Action Team (Sekat), is being closely monitored by the police after a similar convention planned by Chinese educationists was cancelled yesterday following protests by Malay Muslim groups.

The National Jawi Congress began without a hitch at about 10.30am.

Midway through the talk, the five entered and made their way to seats close to the front just as the third speaker, prominent lawyer Siti Kasim took to the stage.

The emcee announced their arrival, and their entrance was greeted with applause from the roughly 300 congress participants.

It is not known if the five are representing any group and attended to show support or protest the topic.

The congress today was aimed at providing a discourse to those seeking answers over the confusion of policies surrounding the introduction of jawi script lessons into vernacular schools.

Sekat secretary general Arun Doraisamy was among the speakers at the congress who stressed that the onus was on the Ministry of Education (MOE), not only to iron out the issues of misconceptions, but also responsible to ascertain sentiments on the ground towards the topic.

Arun claimed how meetings over the matter were mostly held between ministry officials and Chinese education groups, stressing that a consensus can only be made once feedback from all stakeholders representing all ethnic backgrounds are obtained.

Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Jawi Teaching Special Committee (JTSC) coordinator Datuk Eddie Heng Hong Chai also spoke today, saying legal action would be taken against the government if no solutions are brought forward by the ministry over the matter.

“Our final recourse is we will go through the legal system, challenging the rights based on the Education Act and Language Code, but this is not what we want and what we hope for is a meeting with MOE,” said Heng.

Speaking during the press conference, Arun, again stressed that legal action would be the last resort taken, only if there is absolutely no solution in sight.

“Our motive is to have a dialogue, so we hope the MOE can start to dialogue with us, and we must have all five parties, from Sabah, Sarawak, the Malays, Chinese and Indians.

“If the dialogue fails then we will go to court, and if we go to court, it will be a collective case with Sekat and other NGOs who want to join us, since this is a national issue, it will see a joint representation,” he said.

Towards the end, Sekat presented seven resolutions which will be handed over to MOE as suggestions on how to solve the issue.

Arun said the resolutions would be handed over to officials tomorrow at 11.30am, at the Education Ministry office in Putrajaya.

Among the resolutions that will be brought to ministry include calls to make jawi script lessons optional for students and for it not to be included in the Bahasa Malaysia syllabi, while urging for the empowerment of the national language among students in all public schooling systems be made a bigger priority.

The final resolution was for MOE to ultimately hold off the introduction of the jawi script lessons until all stakeholders have had their say made known to the ministry.

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