The Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad was wrong to brand Dong Zong as “racist” but Dong Zong was not right to claim that the Jawi lesson for Chinese/Tamil primary school Std. 4 Bahasa Malaysia subject from 2020 was beginning of Islamisation.
Both these incidents illustrates the gravity of the misperception that engulfs the subject of Jawi in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
I was in Chennai, Salem, Bangalore and New Delhi when the Jawi subject controversy blew up and the briefing by the Deputy Education Minister, Teo Nie Chin at the gathering for Malacca DAP members yesterday was the first time I learned about the origins of the Jawi subject controversy.
There were conspiracy theories that the Jawi controversy invented either Education Minister, Mazlee Malek or the Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to serve their political purposes.
In actual fact, however, the Jawi subject controversy was a legacy of the former government, as the final decision on the new textbooks for Chinese/Tamil primary schools to introduce the Jawi subject for Std. 4 pupils in 2020 was made by Education Ministry Curriculum Committee chaired by the then Education Minister and the then two Deputy Education Ministers in a meeting of Sept. 30, 2015.
The Deputy Education Minister, Teo Nie Chin, only knew about the matter when the controversy blew up last month.
As I said in Skudai over last weekend, if there had been no change of government in the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018, the implementation of the Education Ministry decision on new curriculum in Sept. 2015 would probably result in “Three Wants” in the new textbooks for Chinese/Tamil Std. 4 primary school pupils – Want to be compulsory, Want to have examination and Want students to learn Jawi.
As a result of DAP intervention in Cabinet, the “Three Wants” had become “Three Nos” — No Compulsion, No Examination and No learning/writing of Jawi but only introduction.
There is the proposal that the Jawi subject be scrapped for Chinese/Tamil primary schools, although it has already appeared for many years in the current Std. V textbook for Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
When I was in Salem, India last week, I noted the statement of the Education Ministry that it “still accept the views of various parties to ensure that there is fair consideration” as indicative that the Education Ministry is still open to views and consultation from all groups and parties concerned on the subject.
This is an opening that should be fully used for a new consideration of the subject of Jawi in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.