Perlis mufti blames vernacular schools for communal friction

The Perlis mufti went on to make a veiled call for unity and solidarity to restore political power and strength to face down what he called ‘insolence.’ — Picture by Choo Choy May
The Perlis mufti went on to make a veiled call for unity and solidarity to restore political power and strength to face down what he called ‘insolence.’ — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 — Disagreement among the country’s various communities will exist so long as vernacular education is allowed to remain, Perlis Mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin claimed today.

Mohd Asri’s Facebook post appeared to refer to the Dong Zong conference that was barred after rival groups threatened to hold counter-rallies, but did not specify if this was the case.

“As long as vernacular schools that do not use the national language are not eliminated from the country, then the conflict and unrest between races will remain,” he claimed.

The Perlis mufti went on to make a veiled call for unity and solidarity to restore political power and strength to face down what he called “insolence.”

On December 18, Dong Zong said it would hold a mass gathering of Chinese organisations on December 28 to urge the government to cancel the teaching of the jawi script in the Bahasa Melayu subject in vernacular schools.

It was later clarified that the event including Tamil education group representatives would be an indoor consultative meeting, instead of a protest or stand-off between the Chinese and Malays.

A day before the December 28 gathering, Malay-Muslim groups announced they would hold a rally outside New Era University College where the gathering would be held in order to block it.

The police obtained a court order on the same day to bar Dong Zong from proceeding with the conference, citing a danger to public order.

Vernacular education is constitutionally guaranteed but has become increasingly contested with the resurgence of communal politics since the last general election, as it is seen as a touchstone of Chinese-based parties such as DAP.

Challenges against vernacular schools include two ongoing lawsuits to declare them unconstitutional.

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