PETALING JAYA: It was wrong for Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to label Dong Zong as being "racist", says DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang (pic).
However, he added that the claim by the Chinese educationist group that khat lessons would be the start of Islamisation in vernacular schools was "erroneous".
"Both these incidents illustrate the gravity of the misperception that engulfs the subject of khat in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, " Lim said in a statement on Wednesday (Aug 13).
His statement was in reference to Dr Mahathir's description of Dong Zong as "racist" on Tuesday (Aug 12) in response to allegations by the educationists group that the introduction of jawi calligraphy was a form of Islamisation.
Lim said that he came to know of the origins of the khat controversy at a DAP gathering in Melaka on Tuesday (Aug 12) night and quashed conspiracy theories that the khat controversy was "invented" for political reasons.
"There were conspiracy theories that the khat controversy were invented either by Education Minister Maszlee Malik or the Prime Minister to serve their political purposes.In actual fact, however, the khat subject controversy was a legacy of the former government, " he added.
Lim noted that the final decision on the new textbooks for Chinese/Tamil primary schools to introduce the khat subject for Year Four pupils in 2020 was made by the Education Ministry Curriculum Committee chaired by the then-education minister and his two deputies during a meeting on Sept 30, 2015.
Lim also came to the defence of Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching, saying that she only came to know of the matter when the controversy blew up last month.
He then added that khat would have likely been implemented as a compulsory subject for Year Four students in vernacular schools if there had been no change of government last year.
Lim said that the intervention by DAP ministers in the Cabinet had resulted in a decision to introduce khat, but not as a compulsory subject.
He noted that the Education Ministry said it was still open to views on the implementation of khat in schools.
On Monday (Aug 12), DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who is also the Finance Minister, said he would raise the matter again during the Cabinet meeting this week.