EDITORIAL: Defending Chinese education is different from racism

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia (Sin Chew Daily / ANN) - Those who are against the implementation of Jawi calligraphy in vernacular primary schools should not be labelled as racists as such label blurs the focus of the issue.  

The implementation of Jawi calligraphy, also known as seni khat in vernacular primary school is met with strong opposition with the United Chinese School Committees’ Association (Dong Zong) launching a signature campaign to object. However, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has labelled the group as racist. This is a serious allegation especially when the label is made by the Prime Minister who is influential. He should not be labelling a Chinese education group with a negative image. 
Dr Mahathir’s criticism against Dong Zong does not help to resolve the Jawi calligraphy controversy but adds fuel to the fire. Perlis Mufti, Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin also accused Dong Zong as an extreme group with threats equivalent to terrorists. There are also groups which launched online petition to list Dong Zong as an illegal organisation.
It is not proper to label those who are against the implementation of Jawi calligraphy as racists. Such label has blurred the focus of the issue. Do not forget that there are others object to the implementation too besides Dong Zong and the Chinese community. In new Malaysia, the political gimmick of labelling should no longer be used. Any dispute should be dealt with based on rational approach, through interactive platform to achieve mutual understanding and consensus. 
Dr Mahathir should know that defending Chinese education is different from racism. Defending Chinese education has been the sole mission of Dong Zong. The group has made its contribution to the Chinese community and Chinese education. The effort of safeguarding vernacular education and racism are two different matters. Dong Zong is against implementing Jawi calligraphy in vernacular primary school. It objected to the implementation of vision schools on the same principle, which is also the wish of Chinese community. In fact, the Chinese community and Dong Zong are standing on the same line to oppose Jawi calligraphy. The stand is very clear. 
Instead of lambasting Dong Zong, Dr Mahathir should reflect on the reaction of Dong Zong and communicate with the latter on this ground. As a government elected by the people, the Pakatan Harapan should listen to people’s views and establish consensus based on rational interaction. It should not neglect the voice of Chinese community. 
Malaysia is a country made up of diversified groups. The government and its politicians should be viewing issues from people’s perspective under the new Malaysia. It should not be labelling others as racists. Those in power should be role models in leading the nation out of the pool of racial policies which practice segregation.
It is not wrong to defend Chinese education. Such move is not racism. All matters should be handled in a rational manner. Labelling will only aggravate dispute which offers no help to resolve conflicts. 


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