As jawi debate takes on racial tone, Dong Zong, Mujahid agree on need to de-escalate

R. Loheswar
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa (centre) shakes hands with Jiao Zong president Datuk Ong Chiow Chuen (left) after meeting Dong Zong representatives in Putrajaya January 15, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 15 — Chinese educationist group Dong Zong and minister Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa said today that both of them have agreed on the need to de-escalate the fiery debate on jawi lessons, following a meet earlier.

Both parties agreed that they need to sit down and discuss methods of implementing jawi in schools in a way everyone will agree with, and that the public needs to know that Dong Zong is not opposed to jawi lessons, but only on its implementation.

“After an hour and a half of fruitful dialogue we have come to consensus on several matters pertaining to the issue of jawi.

“Various matters were brought up, but as the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs I cannot make a final decision on the matter as I do not have the capacity to do so,” Mujahid told the press at his office here.

“I have not made any commitments as yet per our discussions today, but I promise that we will bring the topics of discussion and the outcomes to the Cabinet before deciding the next course of action,” he added.

The minister in charge of religion also said that both parties have identified five points that need to be addressed over the issue.

Mujahid said the most important point was to recognise that Dong Zong does not oppose jawi, and that all parties need to de-escalate the situation, which has inevitably taken on a racial tone.

He added that the third point is to reiterate that the introduction of jawi is not meant to convert non-Muslims into Islam, and it is not part of Islamisation; and for everybody to collectively fight those who wish to stoke racial tensions by manipulating this issue.

Finally, all parties need to be able to sit down and have a dialogue and discussion about this issue as well as being open minded enough to accept one another’s views.

“It was important for us to meet today to know each other’s stand when it comes to the jawi issue,” said Dong Zong’s secretary-general Ng Chai Heng.

“Apart from jawi, we shared topics on racial issues that have been arising lately. It has become alarming and we need to find a way to overcome it.

“We at Dong Zong are always willing to have open discussions on matters concerning us in hopes of sorting out our differences and to preserve racial harmony,” he added.

The debate on implementing jawi in vernacular schools’ Standard Four classes has been ongoing for over six months.

Following the court order stopping Dong Jiao Zong’s closed-door congress on December 28 to discuss the issue, Muslim students’ group Gamis and several others organised a rally in Kuala Lumpur yesterday where they demanded the government outlaw the Chinese education group for opposing jawi in schools.


 

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