Joint Statement: Set Aside First, Discuss Later

Joint Statement: Set Aside First, Discuss Later

August 5, 2019


The associations and groups of community below have reached the following consensus today upon the second phase (applicable to Grade 4, 5 and 6) additional inclusion of Seni Khat in the Bahasa Melayu coursebook for vernacular schools:

  1. According to the statement released by the Ministry of Education on 2nd August 2019, the Curriculum and Assessment Standard as well as the contents of the Bahasa Melayu coursebook will be duly reviewed; that said, only a brief introduction of the Jawi calligraphy will be included in the national-type primary school curriculum but not formative assessment and the like. In addition, proverbs will not be used in the coursebook for Jawi learning and practice so that no heavier burden will be shouldered on teachers and learners. Yet we receive the directive with guarded optimism.The statement released by the Ministry is thought to have a deluge of doubts yet to be clarified and hence we beseech the Ministry to release the nuts and bolts of the amendment process for the relief of public doubts. Attributed to this prerequisite, we decided to set the matter aside first and discuss further later.
  2. We herewith reiterate: our objection towards the additional inclusion of Jawi calligraphy in the vernacular school Bahasa Melayu coursebook is adamant as it defies the practical needs of Bahasa Melayu learning and does not help in the promotion of Bahasa Melayu proficiency. We are convinced, the promotion of Bahasa Melayu proficiency is the major objective at primary level for all vernacular school students. Therefore, as a means of fun learning in the language, a brief introduction of Jawi calligraphy will be excessive and germane guidelines should be included in the Curriculum and Assessment Standard for teachers’ reference. To attain this goal, the ministry may refer to the existing Grade Five Bahasa Melayu coursebook in which brief introduction of Jawi calligraphy is presented, apart from calligraphies of other ethnic groups.
  3. Our objection to the additional inclusion of Jawi scripts learning in the Grade Four Bahasa Melayu coursebook is impregnable yet it does not imply that we are against either the learning of Bahasa Melayu, Jawi or multi-culture, only if the implementation is based on pedagogical theories and the consideration for extra burden relief. According to Section 9 of the National Language Act, Roman writing is vindicated the official writing for Bahasa Melayu notwithstanding the concurrent use of Jawi. We totally espouse the learning of Bahasa Melayu in Roman writing, and hence are against the inclusion of Jawi calligraphy learning in Bahasa Melayu teaching. This attitude cannot be translated as anti-patriotism or an act of disrupting national harmony. The claim that anti-Jawi scripts learning equates anti-patriotism is both tendentious and incendiary. We hope these irresponsible individuals and communities will put an end to the calumniation for their personal agenda as it is not only diabolical but also inapposite towards national harmony.
  4. We will give full support to the cross ethnic and culture activities introduced in schools by the Ministry of Education, including the curriculum and activities of vernacular schools which well entrench cultural values. They are forwarded for cultural understanding of other ethnic groups but with the prerequisite of being consonant with the real situation of vernacular schools and not eventually changing their existing unique characteristics.
  5. We will broach this matter with the Deputy Education Minister tomorrow not only for mutual understanding but to convey our stance and needs, including the appointment of representatives from Chinese organisations and Tamil associations in the review process of the said curriculum to prevent worrying decision made by the Ministry. We wish the Ministry of Education will attend to public views and settle this dispute appropriately in due course.

Undersigned Organisations and Groups:

  1. Jiao Zong
  2. Dong Zong
  3. The Chinese Assembly Hall
  4. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  5. The United Chinese School Alumni Association of Malaysia
  6. The Federation of Alumni Associations of Taiwan Universities, Malaysia
  7. Merdeka University Berhad
  8. Malaysia Chinese Language Council
  9. The Association of Graduates from the Universities and Colleges in China, Malaysia
  10. Tamil Foundation
  11. Persatuan Titian Digital Malaysia