PAS proposes “PAS-MCA Friendship Committee” to discuss Jawi crisis

(FMT) – PAS says it is open to having a dialogue with Chinese education groups over their resistance to the teaching of Jawi in vernacular schools, in what is seen as a break from the more aggressive stand taken by government leaders and NGOs.

The opposition Islamist party also said it has gathered its senior leaders to address the issue under a special “PAS-MCA Friendship Committee”, signalling closer ties between the two former rivals following the PAS-Umno charter in September.

“This is in line with Islamic teachings followed by PAS, as well as the PAS constitution that states that it can work with other organisations in the interest of not only Muslims but also in implementing justice for all Malaysians and ensuring racial harmony,” party secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said.

This comes as educationist group Dong Jiao Zong was criticised by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad over its plan to hold a congress in Kajang on Saturday on the introduction of Jawi lessons in the Bahasa Melayu syllabus for vernacular schools.

The group is among several educationist groups who have protested the Cabinet decision.

Several ruling politicians, including PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim and Amanah’s Mujahid Yusof Rawa, have called on organisers to cancel the congress.

“I am worried that the controversy about the introduction of Jawi lessons in vernacular schools will worsen racial and political sentiments. I urge all parties, including Dong Jiao Zong, to return to the discussion table,” Anwar had said.

On Dec 20, Mahathir warned Dong Jiao Zong that there would be repercussions to the gathering.

The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCH) has meanwhile backed the congress, saying it is a consultative meeting and not a rally or stand-off between different racial groups.

KLSCH president Ong Seng Khek had also voiced regret that promotion of the Jawi script was being seen as a bid for Islamisation, saying this would naturally raise fears among non-Muslim parents.

“We believe such fears can be overcome in time through the building of trust, especially if the education ministry will take a more consultative approach regarding policy changes,” Ong had said.