KOTA KINABALU: Sabah MCA has taken issue with what it says have been conflicting statements by state leaders on education matters, especially the introduction of khat or the calligraphic form of Jawi in vernacular schools.
Sabah MCA women’s chief Dr Pamela Yong said she was left confused over the recent statement by Assistant Education and Innovation Minister Jenifer Lasimbang that Sabah would comply with the national education policy in the matter.
She said DAP leaders had previously demanded that issues in the state be handled by Sabahans themselves. She added that seven DAP representatives and an appointed assemblyman had signed this statement.
Sabah PKR chairman Christina Liew, who is the deputy chief minister, had also been against mandatory introduction of khat, she said.
“So which is it? Do they want Sabah to decide or just follow?”
Yong also questioned Warisan’s slogan of “Sabah for Sabahans”, saying national political parties like DAP and PKR appeared to be doing more to champion Sabah’s rights.
She said Warisan deputy president Darell Leiking had brought up the possibility of Sabah asking for a separate syllabus “within its rights”.
Days later, though, Lasimbang who is also from Warisan said Sabah would follow the national education policy after all.
Yong also questioned Lasimbang’s suggestion that those against the khat issue consider it an opportunity to learn a new “language”.
She said her children, who attend vernacular schools, learn Bahasa Melayu, English and Mandarin there and Hakka at home.
“If they were to learn another language, I would rather they learn the language of our indigenous natives like the Dusun or Kadazan language, which is the pride of our diverse state,” she said.
“It’s not about being emotional. It’s about being practical and pragmatic about the matter.”
On Aug 14, the Cabinet announced that khat would be introduced in the syllabus for Year 4 primary school pupils at vernacular schools despite the backlash from various groups.
The lessons, to be called “Jawi script” instead of khat, will be optional and will not be tested in exams.