PETALING JAYA: The statement by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad labelling Chinese educationist group Dong Zong as "racist" is uncalled for, says MCA.
Party president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (pic) said the Chinese and Indian community, former minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, activist lawyer Siti Kasim, columnist Azly Rahman and many other Malay intellectuals had also opposed the inclusion of Jawi calligraphy in the Bahasa Melayu subject for Year Four pupils.
"We are not racist. Thousands of us oppose this, but it's not because we hate khat.
"We respect the cultural and artistic value of Jawi calligraphy, as well as the direction of education in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
"That is why we agree that khat be included in the art subject, be made an elective topic or as extracurricular learning in primary school, but not necessarily mandatory in the Year Four Bahasa Melayu textbook, " he said in a Facebook post on Monday (Aug 12) night.
On Monday, Dr Mahathir described Dong Zong as “racist”, saying it frequently protests the government’s education policies – including introducing khat in schools.
The Prime Minister said the organisation had previously opposed the setting up of Sekolah Wawasan, where three types of primary schools – national schools, Chinese vernacular primary schools and Tamil vernacular primary schools – would come under one roof.
Dr Wee recently lambasted the Pakatan Harapan government for its misleading statements regarding the teaching of khat in schools.
He said that Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik had issued a statement, saying that teachers can only decide on their teaching methods for khat.
He added Dr Maszlee had said that "the introduction of khat calligraphy is implemented optionally, with teachers given the power to decide on their own classroom methods".
"In other words, teachers can only choose their teaching method, instead of deciding not to teach it. Then, it is not an elective topic, ” he said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Aug 8).
This, he added, showed that the topic was not an elective.
“(Deputy Education Minister) Teo Nie Ching’s Facebook post and (Finance Minister) Lim Guan Eng’s statement saying that khat is an elective topic are both misleading, " added Dr Wee in the post.
In his post on Tuesday, Dr Wee reiterated that the khat issue was not about race and said that it concerned the status of vernacular education.
"As the only prime minister who used the now-defunct Internal Security Act against Chinese educationists, Dr Mahathir should not stir racial sentiments and create a split among the people for political mileage at the expense of Chinese education.
"If defending vernacular education is said to be racist, what about the remarks claiming 'Chinese are rich' and the decision to maintain the 90% quota for bumiputra students in the pre-university matriculation programme?" he added.