PETALING JAYA – The Prime Minister’s labelling of Chinese educationist group Dong Zong as “racist” was “uncalled for” and “most regretted”, says Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh.
He said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s remark would only aggravate the situation.
The Prime Minister’s statement came following Dong Zong’s protests over introducing khat in the Bahasa Melayu curriculum of Year Four pupils in schools.
“Instead of allaying the concerns of Dong Zong on the khat issue, calling it racist will only distance it from any compromise or negotiations that should be had by all stakeholders on the matter.
“That there is dissatisfaction over the matter on the ground is a fact and cannot be taken lightly, ” Ramkarpal said in a statement on Monday (Aug 12).
He added that any disagreement should be communicated in a rational manner and via proper dialogue sessions.
“If there are any valid grounds to disagree with Dong Zong, they should be rationally argued and its concerns should not be dismissed on account of racism.”
Ramkarpal said that as the khat issue has attracted much criticism, it is only right for DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng to raise the matter again at the next Cabinet meeting for its review.
“It is hoped an amicable and acceptable solution is reached on the matter as soon as possible through proper dialogue and consultation, ” he said.
Earlier, Dr Mahathir said Dong Zong frequently protests all of the government’s education policies, including setting up Sekolah Wawasan (Vision Schools) at primary level.
He had said the reason behind Dong Zong’s objection was because they did not want their children to mix with the Malays.
DAP leaders had been criticised after the government announced plans to introduce khat in schools.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik had announced the teaching of khat in the Bahasa Melayu curriculum for Year Four in Chinese and Tamil primary schools next year. – THE STAR
WRONG FOR DR M TO USE ‘RACIST’ LABEL, BUT DONG ZONG NOT IN THE RIGHT EITHER
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad was wrong to brand Dong Zong as “racist”, but Dong Zong was not right to claim that the khat lesson for Chinese/Tamil primary schools’ Standard Four Bahasa Malaysia subject from 2020 was the beginning of Islamisation.
Both these incidents illustrate the gravity of the misperception that engulfs the subject of khat in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
I was in Chennai, Salem, Bangalore and New Delhi when the khat subject controversy blew up and the briefing by Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching at the gathering for Malacca DAP members yesterday was the first time I learned about the origins of the khat subject controversy.
There were conspiracy theories that the khat controversy were invented either by Education Minister Maszlee Malik or the prime minister to serve their political purposes.
In actual fact, however, the khat subject controversy was a legacy of the former government, as the final decision on the new textbooks for Chinese/Tamil primary schools to introduce the khat subject for Standard Four pupils in 2020 was made by the Education Ministry Curriculum Committee chaired by the then education minister and the then two deputy education ministers in a meeting on Sept. 30, 2015.
Deputy Education Minister Teo only knew about the matter when the controversy blew up last month.
As I said in Skudai over last weekend, if there had been no change of government in the 14th general election on May 9, 2018, the implementation of the Education Ministry decision on the new curriculum in Sept 2015 would probably result in “Three Wants” in the new textbooks for Chinese/Tamil Standard Four primary school pupils – want to be compulsory, want to have examination and want students to learn khat.
As a result of DAP intervention in Cabinet, the “Three Wants” had become “Three Nos” – no compulsion, no examination and no learning/writing of khat but only introduction.
There is the proposal that the khat subject be scrapped for Chinese/Tamil primary schools, although it has already appeared for many years in the current Standard Five textbook for Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
When I was in Salem, India last week, I noted the statement of the Education Ministry that it is “still accepting the views of various parties to ensure that there is fair consideration” as indicative that the Education Ministry is still open to views and consultation from all groups and parties concerned on the subject.
This is an opening that should be fully used for a new consideration of the subject of khat in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
WRITER: LIM KIT SIANG is the MP for Iskandar Puteri.