KUCHING: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should not have labelled Dong Zong racist, say Sarawak DAP elected representatives as their concerns were not without basis.
Calling it "wrong and most regretted", Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said the Prime Minister's reaction did not help to allay concerns raised by the Chinese educationist group and the public at large.
He said although Dong Zong's assertion that the introduction of khat lessons was an attempt at Islamisation might not be accurate, their concerns should not be brushed aside as they were not unfounded and possibly represented the views of a large section of the Chinese community on the issue.
"That there is dissatisfaction over the matter on the ground is a fact which cannot be taken lightly.
"This is why I urge the Education Ministry to engage in more dialogue with the relevant stakeholders, including Dong Zong, Tamil school educationists and the public to allay concerns on the khat issue and to make sure that the discussion is
centred on educational aspects without dragging in sentiments of race or religion to further divide the people, " Yii said in a statement on Tuesday (Aug 13).
He was responding to Dr Mahathir who labelled Dong Zong "racist" on Monday (Aug 12) over its allegations that the introduction of Jawi calligraphy for Year Four pupils was a form of Islamisation.
Yii also said it was timely that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng would bring up the khat issue again in the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday (Aug 14).
"We do not want to see this issue break the social fabric of our country when education is supposed to be the main thing to uplift our nation and bring it forward, " he said.
Noting that the introduction of khat was decided by the Barisan Nasional government, Yii called on Pakatan Harapan ministers to be more alert in implementing policies made by the previous administration.
He said the Pakatan government should adopt an open and consultative approach to discuss such policies with stakeholders before deciding whether to implement them.
Meanwhile, Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei said that the Chinese community had the right to raise their concerns, which the Prime Minister should listen to and address.
"It is inappropriate for Dr Mahathir to label Dong Zong racist. He should be a prime minister for all Malaysians in the spirit of the new government.
"The old way of doing things should not be continued, " he said.