Lim Kit Siang Says Learning Jawi Calligraphy Did Not Make Him Less Chinese

The Iskandar Puteri MP taught himself Jawi when he was first detained under the Internal Security Act in 1969.

On Sunday, 4 August, Lim Kit Siang defended the introduction of 'khat' in vernacular schools by saying that learning the Jawi calligraphy did not make him "less Chinese"

In a statement on his website, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) leader shared his own experience of learning 'khat' (Jawi calligraphy) and how it helped make him a better Malaysian.

"When I was first detained under the Internal Security Act in 1969, I taught myself Jawi in detention. It did not make me any less of a Chinese, and may have helped in making me more of a Malaysian," he wrote.

Image via Roketkini

The Iskandar Puteri MP added that a Malaysia where each race group lived within its own universe is "not the Malaysia" he strives for

"The Malaysia I want to see is one where the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, and Ibans come out of their own universes to interact with other communities; to learn, appreciate, and accept that Malaysia is not to be identified with any one community but with all the different communities who have made the land their mother country," he explained.

He also acknowledged that the pressing matter in regards to Malaysian education is the need to introduce reforms so that Malaysian students can match global standards.

Last week, controversy over the introduction of 'khat' into the Year Four Bahasa Malaysia syllabus erupted from Chinese educationist groups

Free Malaysia Today reported on Wednesday, 31 July, that the Dong Zong and Jiao Zong (DZJ) groups, which represent the interests of Chinese independent schools nationwide, had resisted the change.

The groups claimed that the introduction of 'khat' was not suitable as "art of calligraphy writing has nothing to do with learning the national language which follows a romanised script", the report said.

DZJ added that it was not resistant to celebrations of the the country's various cultures and languages, but that they disagreed that "the learning of cultures is made compulsory for students".

Education Minister Maszlee Malik has since clarified that the plan had already been in motion since 2014 and was decided based on feedback from language and education experts

In a media statement, the minister explained that the introduction of 'khat' into the syllabus was made to "instil the values and heritage of the Malay language and our nation's identity".

Maszlee also said that he was open to introducing other styles of calligraphy besides 'khat', reported Malay Mail.

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