Cops gave in to inciters, Suhakam says on axed Jawi congress

Jawi will be taught to Year Four students beginning next year with the subject made optional for vernacular schools, contingent on approval from parent-teacher associations.

PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) took authorities to task yesterday over a congress on Jawi which was cancelled at the last minute, raising concerns that the authorities had given in to “inciters of violence”.

It said it took a serious view of the “actions of the state” which it said had deprived Chinese educationist group Dong Zong of its right to freedom of assembly and speech.

“The commission is concerned that the authorities are giving into inciters of violence at the expense of the protection of the fundamental rights of Malaysian citizens,” it said in a statement.

The event, which centred on the introduction of Jawi in vernacular schools, was cancelled on Friday after police obtained a court order against it.

Critics had previously warned that the congress would lead to retaliation by Malay associations and NGOs.

But Suhakam said the conference as well as any subsequent protests against it should have been allowed to proceed, with police ensuring the safety of all.

“Suhakam hopes the police will fully investigate threats of violence, as they could amount to incitement to hatred, sectarian riots, and threaten the rule of law in the country,” it said.

The government recently announced that Jawi would be taught to Year Four students beginning next year. However, the subject will be optional for vernacular schools, contingent on approval from parent-teacher associations.

The move sparked controversy, with Dong Zong at the forefront of the opposition.