Dong Zong Laments Speech Made by the Prime Minister Seni Khat to be Maintained in Islamic Education Curriculum

Joint Statement Released by Dong Zong and Jiao Zong

August 13, 2019

Dong Zong Laments Speech Made by the Prime Minister

Seni Khat to be Maintained in Islamic Education Curriculum


In response to the “racist” allegation made by our Prime Minister Tun Mahathir towards Dong Zong, let alone extreme disappointment, we strongly urge politicians to be deliberate in their speech and action to avoid the initiation of conflicts and the advocacy of confrontation.


  1. Dong Zong proclaims formally herewith, from the very beginning it stands firm on mother tongue education and embraces pluralistic culture education. Dong Zong understands the pluralistic reality of our country and thus it opposes any measure which denies recognition, respect and compassion towards cultural differences as well as the derogatory measure towards other races. Vowing to boost inter-school cultural integration activities, a multiracial and cultural development committee was established by Dong Zong of late.
  2. Dong Zong is never the sole organisation which opposes the Seni Khat unit. The opposition is verily the unanimous voice of the non-Muslim communities in the Malaysia peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak. Further, the Seni Khat implementation is verily not widely accepted by all ethnic Melayu; in fact, even Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz pointed out that it cannot be a required subject, but rather, optional in vernacular schools.
  3. The Ministry of Education hitherto has not consulted non-Muslim organisations like Dong Zong, Jiao Zong, Tamil Foundation and the Malaysia Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism on the Jawi scripts learning implementation and their unanimous voice strongly vindicates the real situation. As informed, Seni Khat has long been included in the Islamic education curriculum for Grade Four Muslim students and they have learned Jawi scripts since Grade One. Our doubt being, for any non-Muslim, what is the point of incorporating Seni Khat in the Grade Four Bahasa Melayu subject for vernacular school students when its preliminary knowledge was not taught at early stage? Moreover, in the Islamic curriculum standard, it is imperative that Jawi scripts and calligraphy to be taught from Grade One to Six. On that score, the Jawi scripts and calligraphy learning should stay in the Islamic education curriculum as it stands but not in vernacular schools.
  4. Dong Zong objects to the learning of Seni Khat as it is forwarded as a religion propagandising tool and it is evidently part of the Islamisation agenda that fazes non-Muslims. Nik Omar Nik Aziz, the President of the Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (henceforth YADIM), has explicitly expressed his religious motif, viz., he espouses “the government’s move to introduce Jawi scripts and Seni Khat” to “benefit the coming generation and they will continue using Khat. By learning Khat, it will also make it easier for them to understand the Qu’ran”. Other than that, the forwarding religious motif of Seni Khat likewise was reflected in academic document, for instance, “The Contributions of the Arabian Calligraphy in the Islamic Art: A Historical Study” written by Dr Mohd Bakhir Hi Abdullah.
  5. Dong Zong, standing as a non-Muslim organisation, can understand Muslims’ fervent love for Jawi scripts and Seni Khat. We support the will of those organisations such as the YADIM and the like, viz., to promote the mastery of Jawi scripts. That said, we suggest that they should continue to teach Seni Khat in Islamic schools but we oppose to include Seni Khat in the Bahasa Melayu coursebook for vernacular schools. This act fazes non-Muslim parents, to be precise. If Seni Khat is introduced mandatorily, it will belie the non-enforcement principle of Islam.
  6. Dong Zong fully supports Bahasa Malaysia as the national language of the country and the Roman writing is the sole script writing of Bahasa Melayu, as stated clearly in Article 32 (9) of the National Language Acts 1963/67: The script of the national language shall be the Roman script provided that this shall not prohibit the use of the Malay script, more commonly known as the Jawi script, of the national language.
  7. Dong Zong respects Jawi scripts as a cultural heritage and it is the key towards earlier published works in the Malay language. We also understand the efforts put in for the preservation of Jawi scripts by both the government and the Malay world. But the prerequisite of accepting and learning Jawi scripts is the social functions (for expression and discussion) it bears, just like non-Muslims can use Arabian in countries such as Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt, including its use in Christianity.
  8. Dong Zong appeals Tun Mahathir to listen to opinions from all accounts on Jawi scripts learning and not to overlook non-Muslims’ views. Before any measure of sensitive issues is to be imposed by the government, we wish consultations from germane stakeholders and communities are duly sought after. Dong Jiao Zong wishes to vindicate its stance towards the Prime Minister and hopes the Minister of Education Dr Maszlee and his office will establish a consultation committee for languages and religions to avoid dispute like Seni Khat to beset recurringly.