I wish to correct certain press reports that gives the false impression that the introduction of jawi illustrations in Standard 4 Bahasa Malaysia textbook in Chinese and Tamil primary schools is not optional but compulsory, only that the method of teaching is optional. This is not true. Cabinet had decided 2 days ago that the introduction of jawi illustrations to Standard 4 students is not to be made compulsory but optional, reduced to 3 pages and not to be tested in examination.
Such misleading reports have only compounded the trust deficit and general suspicion the non-Malay community has towards the Education Ministry, following 61 years of broken promises and unfair treatment. The unhappiness of the non-Malay community and educationists in Chinese and Tamil primary schools against the introduction of Jawi illustrations in Standard 4 Bahasa Malaysia textbook, stemmed from what is seen by them as an unilateral decision taken by the Education Ministry, without any prior consultation with the stakeholders.
The mix-up with Jawi and Arabic script has also not helped to dispel fears that this is an attempt to introduce Islamisation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, when both Jawi and Arabic are as different as German is to English. This failure to carry out prior consultation is why the non-Malay community remains unhappy, do not believe the explanations given and continues to insist on deferment until prior consultation is done.
For this reason the government faces a challenging task amongst the Chinese and Tamil primary schools to build up confidence that was lacking in the previous government that we are different from the old by delivering on our promises and acting fairly.