Pressure builds to call off congress critical of Jawi lessons

(FMT) – The minister in charge of Islamic affairs has joined growing calls by Pakatan Harapan leaders to cancel a gathering this Saturday organised by Chinese organisations to discuss the government’s move to introduce Jawi lessons in vernacular schools next year.

Mujahid Yusof Rawa, who is also the vice-president of Amanah, said organisers should take into account the High Court’s ruling on Nov 28 that the Jawi script is part of the national language, in dismissing a suit by Gerakan challenging the teaching of Jawi in vernacular schools.

“We wonder why there are those who insist on prolonging the Jawi issue by holding protests,” Mujahid said in a statement.

He said the Jawi script is part of Malaysia’s cultural heritage, and urged critics to be more open-minded.

Yesterday, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCH) expressed support for the congress, against a backdrop of criticism from Chinese and Indian education groups that the Jawi lessons are part of an Islamisation agenda.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had warned organisers of a backlash from Malay groups if they went ahead with the meeting to protest the introduction of Jawi lessons in vernacular schools.

“You do that kind of thing, and you will get a reaction,” he said on Dec 20, adding that protests from Chinese groups against Jawi lessons had led to efforts to shut down Chinese schools.

Chinese education group Dong Jiao Zong has since said that it is prepared to meet Education Minister Maszlee Malik and anyone interested in finding a solution in the dispute.

But the group did not clearly state whether it will go ahead with the Saturday meeting.

“We are ready to discuss and to seek solutions to end the Jawi issue rationally and to instill understanding among different races,” it said yesterday.