I am still waiting for evidence as to how my stand on Jawi in 2019 had betrayed the rights, interests and future of the Chinese in Malaysia or that I have changed my stand on Jawi in 1984

It is already eleven days since I declared that DAP does not have any de-Chinese, de-Malay, de-Indian, de-Kadazan or de-Iban policy, but the very opposite, wanting Malaysians to accept that they will have multiple identities – ethnic, religious, cultural, regional – but that they are first and foremost Malaysians!

I am still waiting for evidence as to how my stand on Jawi in Chinese and Tamil primary schools had betrayed the rights, interests and future of the Chinese in Malaysia or how in 2019 I had changed my stand on Jawi from that of 1984.

I welcome a honest debate about the future of Malaysia and DAP, but not lies, half-truths, fake news, falsehoods and distorted sayings.

There is a social media campaign which accused me of selling out the rights, position and future of the Chinese in Malaysia and questioned why the DAP was not fielding only Chinese candidates in all DAP contested seats.

I invite them to prove that what I had said about Jawi in Chinese and Tamil primary schools is a sell-out of Chinese and Indian rights, interests and future in Malaysia.

I said in Salem, Tamil Nadu in August 2019 that I taught myself Jawi while I was serving my first detention in Muar in 1969 and that it did not “make me any less of a Chinese, and may have helped in making me more of a Malaysian”.

This has been distorted into my saying that one has to learn Jawi to be a Malaysian.

I had always opposed the introduction of Jawi as a compulsory subject for Chinese and Tamil primary schools as it is against the Constitutional provision in Article 152 which provides for the national language to be Rumi script of Bahasa Malaysia. This was what I said in 1984 and what I repeated in 2019.

In 2019, MCA, Gerakan, MIC and SUPP leaders were the loudest in condemning the introduction of Jawi in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, although this decision was taken by their Ministers four years ago in 2015, to be implemented yearly in the revised textbooks from 2017 – 2022.

The Jawi subject controversy was a legacy of the former government, as the final decision on the new textbooks for Chinese/Tamil primary schools to introduce the Jawi subject for Std. 4 pupils in 2020 was made by the Education Ministry Curriculum Committee chaired by the then Education Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid and attended by the then two Deputy Education Ministers, Datuk Chong Sin Woon (MCA) and P. Kamalanathan (MIC) in a meeting of Sept. 21, 2015.

After that it became an administrative matter for the relevant Education Ministry divisions to implement the policy decision of Sept. 2015.

If there had been no change of government in the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018, the implementation of the Education Ministry decision on new curriculum in Sept. 2015 would result in the compulsory introduction of Jawi in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.

DAP Ministers ensured that instead of a compulsory introduction of Jawi, there was an optional introduction and that there would be no compulsory teaching or examination.

Is this betrayal of the Malaysian Chinese and Indian rights, interests and future in Malaysia?

The Jawi incident was used by MCA, Gerakan and SUPP elements as proof that the DAP Ministers have sold out the rights and interests of the Chinese and Indians.

At the same time, the Jawi issue was used by UMNO and PAS leaders at the time to show that DAP was the “true power in the Pakatan Harapan government”.

If the three-page optional introduction of Jawi in Std. 4 in Chinese and Tamil primary schools is so catastrophic, why are these critics so inconsistent and unprincipled as they had never ask the three-page Jawi to be completely removed from the Chinese and Tamil primary school curriculum although the backdoor, incompetent, undemocratic and illegitimate Perikatan Nasional (PN) had been in office for over a year, where both the MCA and Gerakan are represented?

The Jawi controversy is a lesson to all Malaysians that we should be informed of the background facts of a problem and to take a Malaysian approach to all problems.

Now the Jawi issue has re-surfaced and used to attack me and the DAP leaershp as selling out Chinese interests, rights and future of the Malaysian Chinese.

I will like to know how?

Similarly, DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng had been accused of declaring that he was not a Chinese when he became Finance Minister in 2018, which is a lie as all he said was that he would be a Finance Minister for all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion.

Let me state that all DAP leaders and members are proud of their multiple identities – ethnic, religious, cultural, regional – but they are Malaysians first and foremost.

I am not aware of any DAP leader who is ashamed or wants to renounce his or her ethnic, religious, cultural or regional identity although this is the cause celebre of demonization campaigns against DAP on the social media.

Let us rise above the fissisparous and centrifugal forces threatening to tear Malaysia apart and reunite to build a New Malaysia which is a top world-class nation of unity, freedom, justice, excellence and integrity.

Let us come out of our separate ethnic and religious shells, interact and appreciate the virtues and best values of each other’s ethnicity and leverage on Malaysia’s special position as the confluence of four great world civilisations and not to fall victim to those who only want to engender and incite suspicion, distrust, fear and hatred, pitting race against race and religion against religion, through lies, falsehoods, fake news and hate speech.

(Speech by DAP MP for Iskander Puteri Lim Kit Siang at a meeting with DAP members in Cha’ah, Johore on Friday, 23rd April 2021 at 10 am)

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