UNCLE LIM’S HUNGRY Ghost Festival speech in JB was greeted with angry audiences who booed and rebuked him as he made a scurried exit.
Seeing this, I felt a deep sense of sorrow for him.
A respected political icon for over half a century, this giant nevertheless fails to withstand a barely one-week-old Jawi tempest.
His comrade for decades, Selangor DAP Veterans Club chairman Liew Ah Kim was feeling equally depressed as he vented his frustration and sorrows in a Facebook post: “If time is a river, I’ve been overrun by it long ago. You may appear more outstanding than me, but the same river will also overrun you.”
Uncle Lim savored his overwhelming past success largely because he was on the same side as the rakyat, speaking on their behalf.
His embarrassing isolation today stems from his decision to stand on the opposite side of the people in fierce defense of a wicked education policy.
The rakyat have not changed the least over the years. They are the ones who have changed.
The worst is yet to bottom out. The mistake remains unrectified, and is allowed to go on unchecked.
I was thinking after the Hungry Ghost Festival humiliation, Uncle Lim would at least make an attempt to find out what had gone wrong and make amends.
But the following morning, he showed up with a Year 5 SJKC Bahasa textbook, arguing that the floodgates had already been opened some time ago, as Jawi was already there in SJKC curriculum.
Anyone with the slightest sense can tell the difference. The existing module is teaching the students the linguistic legacies of different ethnic groups of the country, including the Jawi, Chinese and Tamil calligraphy and has been designed to promote greater mutual understanding.
However, the latest measure is more like a one-way traffic that forces a specific culture into the heads of our primary school students, with a hint of “assimilation”.
How could Uncle Lim and his team not see the stark differences between the two?
Up till this minute these people are still insensitive to what the local Chinese community feel about the Khat issue and have insisted to help push the Jawi curriculum.
SO FAR THE government and the party have yet to convince the Chinese community on the following two big questions:
1. Why implement Jawi calligraphy classes at Chinese and Tamil primary schools?
We are not rejecting this policy for the sake of rejecting; neither do we hold any grudges against the education ministry or DAP.
What we really don’t understand is why they must start all this thing to disrupt the otherwise peaceful leaning environment at Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
Those in power have yet to provide an acceptable answer.
Some have argued that it is to promote inter-community understanding and enhance mutual communication.
Lest we forget, inter-community understanding is established upon the basis of interactions on an equal footing, not forced into the minorities.
Promoting mutual communication can be done through the learning of common languages such as Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin Chinese or Tamil, not a religious script that has hardly any practical value.
2. They claim the Chinese community’s rejection of Jawi could spark inter-community conflicts and would eventually lead to disintegration of the country.
The question is: the Malay society has never demanded that Chinese and Indian Malaysians learn Jawi in the first place.
Indeed, some of the Malays might grumble about the poor command of the national language by some Chines and Indians, but none of them, not even Malay political parties or organizations, have demanded that non-Malays learn Jawi.
This issue only began to draw the attention of the Malay society after the PH government insisted to introduce Jawi calligraphy at vernacular schools and after this whole thing has become politicized.
Even then, there are many liberal Malays, including some politicians and scholars, who insist that the learning of Jawi should not be enforced on non-Malays.
Despite the strong opposition from the Chinese community, the education minster has opted to stubbornly go ahead with the plan of introducing Khat at vernacular schools, albeit with some minor modifications.
Meanwhile, DAP reps continue to evade or whitewash the Jawi issue.
Despite the many opportunities the local Chinese community has offered them, those in power remain indifferent and evasive, blaming instead the media or the previous BN administration.
The boos, banners and pelted eggs have not been there for no reason; the people’s frustration and feedback have been largely ignored or treated with disdain.