Dong Zong yet to decide whether to join anti-khat rally tomorrow

Jerry Choong
Dong Zong chairman Tan Tai Kim speaks to reporterer at the Bukit Aman police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur August 22, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 — The United Chinese School Committees' Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) remains undecided if it will participate in tomorrow’s rally protesting the implementation of jawi and khat in vernacular schools.

The organisation's chairman Tan Tai Kim said their participation will first be discussed with other Dong Zong members before proceeding.

“We are not sure yet, and we will only know once we get all members’ opinions,” he told the press outside the Bukit Aman police headquarters, where he has been called in to provide his statement for an investigation being conducted under Section 504 of the Penal Code, which deals with intentional insult with an intent to provoke a breach of the peace.

Yesterday, it was announced that 33 NGOs, primarily from Indian education groups, would hold the rally against the lessons for Standard Four students.

The rally is set to take place in Brickfields from 7pm to 10pm.

The Education Ministry has made the khat lessons optional and reduced the pages from six to three on August 8, after considerable backlash from the minority communities.

Dong Zong has been one of the policy’s most vocal critics, claiming the teaching of khat in vernacular schools as a medium to spread Islam, as well as being unconstitutional by forcing it onto non-Muslim students.

The Chinese educationist group launched a petition on August 10 in which it urged the Education Ministry to retain khat introduction, together with Chinese and Tamil writings, for the Standard Five BM syllabus.

Several days later, Parti Pribumi Bersatu’s youth wing launched a counter-petition urging for Dong Zong’s ban, on grounds that the education group is extremist and intent on undermining national racial unity.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself had said the decision to introduce khat for Standard Four students next year will still carry on as planned, regardless of the protests against it.

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