‘All stakeholders should have say before deciding on khat’

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 07 Aug 2019

PETALING JAYA: More discussions are needed with stakeholders over the decision to include khat (Jawi calligraphy) in the Bahasa Melayu syllabus for Year Four pupils, said moderation advocate Mohamed Tawfik Ismail (pic).

He said there was a deficit in communication from the government when it wanted to introduce the policy.

“Perhaps you need to float a trial balloon first and gauge public opinion and see what the balloon attracts.“In this case, perhaps they have not been in the government before and the minister assumed they have the mandate to do what the people asked and supported, ” he said yesterday.

On Friday, the Education Ministry said the introduction of khat as part of the Bahasa Melayu subject for Year Four pupils would be implemented next year as planned.

Tawfik, who is a former Johor lawmaker (Sungai Benut), said the khat script was more of an art form instead of having any religious undertone.

“I think khat is a script which is artistic. I don’t think there is anything sinister in learning khat.

“The issue has been politicised to make it look like it is trying to proselytise to non-Muslims. That’s the fear for a lot of people, ” he said.

His father (former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman), he said, used to read Utusan Melayu which was in Jawi.

“The road signs in Johor were also written in Jawi with the Roman script beneath it.”

These, he said, were not Quranic inscriptions. “It does not have any reference to Islam at all, ” he said.

Lawyer Siti Kasim said the National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) should have raised the matter earlier, which had been introduced in school since 2015.

“This is not about culture or heritage. This is another attempt by certain parties to normalise these characters in the minds of our future generation. If not, they would have put this under art. Not Bahasa Melayu, ” she said.

Moderation advocate Anas Zubedy said Jawi was not the problem here.

“What we have is a problem of trust. We question each other’s intentions. Trust is a deeper and more serious issue that we need to deal with. We have not bridged enough trust among our communities, ” he said.

In Melaka, the Parent-teacher association (PTA) from the state wants to meet Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik to voice their unhappiness with the current state of the education system.

The decision was made following mounting dissatisfaction among parents and teachers over apparent “topsy-turvy” policies of the Education Minister, said the Melaka Consumer and Environment Association’s Education and Woman bureau chief Azizah Harun.

“This sentiment is not only confined to vernacular schools but also parents and teachers from national schools here, ” she said after meeting with group of parents at Ayer Keroh here yesterday.

Azizah, a former teacher, said that school managements were also feeling the pressure with the abrupt changes in education policies.

“The Education Ministry should do a study on why many teachers are thinking about opting for early retirements, lately.

“This trend is not only in Melaka but all over the country, ” she said.

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