We note YAB Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s concern over the December 28 consultative meeting between Chinese NGOs over the introduction of Jawi script in Chinese-medium national type primary school’s (SJKCs) Standard 4 Bahasa Melayu text book. In response, KLSCAH takes the following stand:
1. We fully affirm and uphold Bahasa Melayu as the National Language with Rumi as the official script as per Article 152 of the Federal Constitution and Section 9 of the National Language Act. We sincerely appreciate the noble efforts by Pendita Za’ba and his colleagues, and fully support all efforts to advance SJKC students’ command of Bahasa Melayu.
2. We acknowledge the important role of Jawi script in our national heritage surrounding Bahasa Melayu since the 13th Century, and note that Jawi was used in all aspects of life in Nusantara, not just in Islamic affairs. We take note that the earliest Bible in Malay was written in Jawi script.
3. We regret that the promotion of Jawi script by has been framed and perceived as an effort for Islamisation, which naturally raises legitimate apprehension amongst non-Muslim parents – not just the Chinese parents in SJKCs, but also the Indian and East Malaysian Christian parents in the Malay-medium national primary schools (SKs), and expressed through the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST).
4. We also empathise with parents who fear that the introduction of Jawi script may eventually be upgraded to learning of writing the script and being tested on this in examinations. This may burden SJKC students who have to learn three languages. We believe such fear can be overcome over time through the building of trust, especially if the Ministry of Education (MOE) will take a more consultative approach with regards to policy changes.
5. We support the first part of the Cabinet decision on 19 August 2019, which stated that every SJKC will decide whether the introduction of Jawi script will be taught. Every school may have its own unique conditions and decentralising decision making is most wise.
6. We however have to oppose the second part of the Cabinet decision on 19 August 2019, which states that the decision in every SJKC will be made solely by the Parent-Teacher Association (PIBG) and parents, completely excluding the school committees of SJKCs, which are guardians and owners of schools.
7. We stand by Dong Zong, the umbrella body of Chinese school committees and Jiao Zong, the umbrella body of Chinese school teacher associations, in demanding that school committees be included in the decision-making on introducing Jawi script in every SJKC. We call upon the MOE to include school committees so that the nation may move on.
8. We believe that we humans are made differently so that we may all come to know each other and that all languages and scripts are divine gifts that should be cherished by all. As a trading nation, Malaysia should embrace multilingualism and encourage voluntary learning of all languages and scripts that strengthen our economic ties with trading partners in different civilisations.
9. We call upon all Malaysians to be civil and respectful to each other’s sensitivities and priorities even when we hold different views on matters like the introduction of Jawi. Lest we forget, our commonalities are way greater than our differences.
10. We call upon all Malaysians to see the December 28 consultative meeting as a normal deliberation exercise in civil society, which will hopefully bring us closer to a solution acceptable to all. It is not a stand-off between Malays and Chinese and must not be misinterpreted as such by any party.
The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)