Reports by MAZWIN NIK ANIS, ZAKIAH KOYA and ALLISON LAI
PETALING JAYA: MCA has refuted Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s labelling of Chinese educationist group Dong Zong as “racist”, saying that many other groups are also opposed to introducing khat in schools.
Party president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said the Chinese and Indian communities, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism, former minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, lawyer Siti Kasim, columnist Azly Rahman, academician Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi and many other Malay intellectuals were also opposed to having the subject being made mandatory in the Year Four Bahasa Melayu subject.
“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 education approach in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
“That is why we agree that khat should be included in the art subject and be made an elective topic or extracurricular learning in primary schools, but not necessarily to make it mandatory in the Year Four Bahasa Melayu syllabus, ” Dr Wee wrote in a post on Facebook.
On Monday, Dr Mahathir said Dong Zong was “racist” as it frequently protested the government’s education policies, including the setting up of Sekolah Wawasan (Vision Schools) at the primary level.DAP leaders had been criticised after the government announced its plan to introduce khat in schools.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said khat would be taught in the Bahasa Melayu syllabus for Year Four in Chinese and Tamil primary schools next year.
Reiterating that the issue was not about race, Dr Wee said it concerned the approach and direction of vernacular education.
“As the only prime minister who had used the now-defunct Internal Security Act against Chinese educationists (in the past), Dr Mahathir should not stir racial sentiment 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?
“Does DAP dare to criticise Dr Mahathir in defence of Chinese educationists?
“Or will they be quietly obedient and be with him in continuing to condemn those who oppose them as ‘racist’?” Dr Wee asked.
Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh said the Prime Minister’s labelling of Dong Zong as racist was “uncalled for and most regretted”.
“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 they are not unfounded and possibly represent 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.
He added that any disagreement should be communicated in a rational manner and via proper dialogue sessions.
Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/08/12/dr-m-should-not-have-labelled-dong-zong-039racist039-says-ramkarpal#ImVu5Ve4c9HmlSUF.99