PETALING JAYA: The Prime Minister’s labelling of Chinese educationist group Dong Zong as "racist" was “uncalled for” and “most regretted”, says Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh.
He said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s remark would only aggravate the situation.
The Prime Minister’s statement came following Dong Zong’s protests over introducing khat in the Bahasa Melayu curriculum of Year Four pupils in schools.
“Instead of allaying the concerns of Dong Zong on the khat issue, calling it racist will only distance it from any compromise or negotiations that should be had by all stakeholders on the matter.
“Dong Zong’s concerns over the khat issue should not be brushed aside as such concerns are not unfounded and possibly represented a large section of the Chinese community on the issue.
“That there is dissatisfaction over the matter on the ground is a fact and cannot be taken lightly, ” Ramkarpal said in a statement on Monday (Aug 12).
He added that any disagreement should be communicated in a rational manner and via proper dialogue sessions.
“If there are any valid grounds to disagree with Dong Zong, they should be rationally argued and its concerns should not be dismissed on account of racism."
Ramkarpal said that as the khat issue has attracted much criticism, it is only right for DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng to raise the matter again at the next Cabinet meeting for its review.
“It is hoped an amicable and acceptable solution is reached on the matter as soon as possible through proper dialogue and consultation, ” he said.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir said Dong Zong frequently protests all of the government’s education policies, including setting up Sekolah Wawasan (Vision Schools) at primary level.
He had said the reason behind Dong Zong’s objection was because they did not want their children to mix with the Malays.
DAP leaders had been criticised after the government announced plans to introduce khat in schools.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik had announced the teaching of khat in the Bahasa Melayu curriculum for Year Four in Chinese and Tamil primary schools next year.