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Foolishness and obstinacy

  • Such a foolish “solution” for a foolish policy that must still be carried out despite all the foolishness. Bernama file photo

By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily

Education minster Maszlee Malik announced the cabinet's decision that Seni Khat (Jawi calligraphy or Arabic and Islamic calligraphic art) will go ahead, albeit with some "adjustments".

Does the decision conform to the will of the Malaysian Chinese community? Will the fears of parents be instantly allayed? Or is the Khat controversy resolved once and for all now?

Not the least! We're back to square one after one big round!

I can sum up the stance of Chinese Malaysians as one of the following:

1. A resolute “no”.

No inclusion of Jawi calligraphy in SJKC curriculum. The education ministry must withhold the Khat policy to ensure the integrity of Chinese primary schools in the country.

2. Some reservation. Negotiable.

This is provided that Jawi is incorporated into the Art curriculum or as an extracurricular activity, not as part of the BM curriculum. Also, it must be an optional, not compulsory, subject.

The above two categories, based on general observation and surveys carried out by the media, represent almost 90% of the local Chinese community.

3. Of course, we still have a third category of people who are receptive to the teaching of Khat at Chinese primary schools.

However, this group of people only make up an almost insignificant minority, including a handful of DAP leaders who have openly expressed their approval.

Now let's look back at Maszlee's announcement and analyze his so-called “adjustments”.

- The teaching of Khat will go ahead at Chinese and Tamil primary schools as planned, but the students' competency will not be tested or assessed.

- The number of pages will be cut down from six to three.

- The teachers will decide how to teach (ambiguous).

On the surface, the ministry has somewhat compromised, but in reality not much change has been done and the whole thing still does not meet the aspirations of the first two categories of Chinese Malaysians above.

Khat has not been withdrawn or deferred. It will still be a part of the BM curriculum, not Art or ECA.

Even though there are fewer pages now, this is of little significance. What's more important is how the Years Five and Six classes will be conducted.

As for whether the subject will be compulsory or optional, the minister's statement is again ambiguous, leaving it to the teachers to decide how the classes should be conducted.

A reporter asked him whether a teacher will face disciplinary action if he or she chooses not to teach.

The minister's reply was, again, ambiguous: “Why take action? We will only encourage...”

My interpretation is that if the minister has said so, will the teachers, being employees of the education ministry, disobey the minister?

The minister also opted not to respond to questions on Jawi classes in Years Five and Six. It appears to me that it is almost certain that the Seni Khat class will extend well into Years Five and Six.

As if that is not enough, Maszlee said both Sabah and Sarawak were included in the new policy.

In short, the will of the Malaysian Chinese community and general public has not been accepted the least.

If there was any faintest hope that there would still be a turnaround in the government's handling of the Jawi issue, that hope is now completely dashed!

Over a week now, the local Chinese community has attempted to voice their disapproval through a variety of channels, but in the end, the Pakatan Harapan government has rubbished it and stubbornly forced through this largely unpopular and wicked policy.

Even a richly experienced pro-Pakatan Rafidah Aziz has warned the government that enforcing Jawi calligraphy in Chinese and Tamil schools is a foolish policy. She has also privately messaged Maszlee to advise him not to make Khat a compulsory subject.

It has been said that Rafidah touched on the Jawi issue during a recent PPBM meeting, and said, pointing at Maszlee's face: stupid!

Of course, this whole thing is more than just a single man's foolishness but the collective decision of the entire cabinet.

Does that therefore mean Pakatan's top guns, including those from DAP, must also be held responsible for such foolishness?

DAP's top management meeting has authorized Lim Guan Eng to state the party's official stand, but in the end this is what we get. Can the ministers from this party be spared from their responsibility?

Such a foolish “solution” for a foolish policy that must still be carried out despite all the foolishness!

They don't bother about what the Chinese community wants. Our rights will be completely crushed in their hands before long.

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