Dong Zong racist, says Dr M on objection over khat

(FMT) – Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today hit out at Chinese education group Dong Zong, labelling them “racists”, amid continued objection to the introduction of khat in the Year 4 Bahasa Melayu syllabus.

Speaking to reporters after an event in Langkawi, Mahathir questioned why Dong Zong, which has been at the forefront of opposing the introduction of khat, did not complain when the previous administration approved the move in 2012.

“Now they want to complain, now we are free, last time if you complain you go in (thrown into jail).

“We have made a decision, if they don’t want to accept it, then don’t,” he said in response to a question on Dong Zong’s petition against the introduction of khat.

The education ministry has announced that plans to introduce six pages of khat lessons in the Standard 4 Bahasa Malaysia textbook next year had been revised. Only three pages would be introduced, and khat lessons would be optional.

Yesterday, Dong Zong chairman Tan Tai Kim said the petition, which will also be supported by Tamil education groups, is being organised on grounds that “research by some scholars and literary experts” had shown that khat had been used as a medium to spread Islam.

“Dong Zong is racist,” said Mahathir when asked to comment on its claim that khat was a medium to spread Islam.

“The government (previously) introduced a single campus, Sekolah Wawasan, where Chinese, Tamil and national schools are placed in a single campus, they did not want it.

“They are scared their children will mix with Malays, so they don’t like Malays, they oppose everything, they never agree with anything,” he said.

Mahathir said the previous administration approved the introduction of khat to win the hearts of Malays but did not act on it. He accused them of telling the different communities what they wanted to hear.

But, he said the current administration did not do this, and that nearly all matters were brought to the Cabinet to decide on.

Earlier today, Klang MP Charles Santiago called for a review of the decision-making process by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council in the wake of the government’s decision on khat as well as other issues, including controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik.

He said there appeared to be too much power in the hands of the prime minister, which should instead be shared equally among the PH component parties.

Asked to comment on Santiago’s remarks, Mahathir said in future when he wanted to make a decision, “I will ask for Santiago’s permission”.

“I will get his views, he is the same level as me,” he said.