Non-Malays angry over khat due to 6 decades of ‘broken promises’, says Guan Eng

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

PETALING JAYA: DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today said the outrage among non-Malays over the education ministry’s move to teach the khat calligraphy to Year 4 students in vernacular schools showed a trust deficit within the community after “61 years of broken promises and unfair treatment”.

He said the community viewed the decision as unilateral and without prior consultation with stakeholders, adding that many still do not trust the explanations from various consultation sessions.

“This failure to carry out prior consultation is why the non-Malay community remains unhappy, does not believe the explanations given and continues to insist on deferment until prior consultation is done,” Lim said.

He also criticised what he called “misleading reports” on the Cabinet’s decision on khat lessons for Year 4 students in vernacular schools, saying it is not true that the calligraphy lessons will be compulsory.

Instead, Lim, who is also the finance minister, said the Cabinet had decided that khat was not only optional but would see the number of pages reduced to three in the Bahasa Melayu textbook.

Lim also expressed regret over the mix-up with Jawi and Arabic script, saying this has only fuelled fears of “Islamisation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools”.

He said Jawi and Arabic “are as different as German is to English”.

The debate on Jawi and khat was sparked after the education ministry said it would introduce lessons on khat, the calligraphic form of Jawi, as part of the Bahasa Melayu syllabus for Year 4 pupils in vernacular schools.

Following strong protests from Chinese and Indian educationists, Education Minister Maszlee Malik said yesterday that teaching of khat would be only an “activity”, and not a subject by itself.