Halt all pro and anti-Jawi rallies, says Anwar

(FMT) – PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has called for a halt to any plans to organise rallies involving the issue of Jawi lessons in vernacular schools.

Chinese education group Dong Jiao Zong, representing the United Chinese Schools Teachers’ Association (Jiao Zong) and the United Chinese School Committees’ Association (Dong Zong), has reportedly been urging Chinese groups to register their interest in attending a rally against the government’s introduction of Jawi lessons in vernacular schools, to be held in Kajang on Saturday.

While Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has warned that pro-Jawi parties may host rallies of their own in retaliation, PAS said such anti-Jawi rallies could potentially result in a repeat of last year’s riot at Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu temple in Subang Jaya.

“I urge our friends, especially Dong Jiao Zong and the Malay associations, to stop with pro-Jawi or anti-Jawi rallies,” Anwar said in a statement today.

“I worry that the controversy about the introduction of Jawi lessons in vernacular schools will worsen racial and political sentiments.

“I am urging all parties, including Dong Jiao Zong, to return to the discussion table,” he said, adding that organising an anti-Jawi rally would provoke a reaction from pro-Jawi parties.

In July, the government announced plans to introduce three pages of Jawi lessons in the Bahasa Malaysia syllabus for Year 4 students, including those in vernacular schools.

Anwar said the Jawi script is a part of Malaysia’s cultural, racial and national treasure, adding that his statement should be seen as a step to promote cross-cultural awareness in the nation.

“Malaysia is a country with various races and cultures; we should be proud of that and respect our differences,” he added.