Commentary Politics

Jawi drama: The Queen, the recalcitrant educationist and tactless politicians

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

January 6, 2019

A commentary by Zaidi Azmi

OUR Twitter-savvy Queen, Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, has been tweeting in Malay using the Jawi script since last month and, much to the chagrin of her haters, showed no signs of stopping anytime soon.

In short, Azizah or Che Minah Sayang — what she called herself on Twitter — is on a pro-Jawi spree, a stand that stemmed from the ongoing divisive Jawi kerfuffle which was triggered by the government’s poorly planned policy.

Her position was simple and clear: the Jawi script is part of the Malay cultural identity and therefore, by virtue of that, is Malaysia’s as well.

And on Saturday, she took to Twitter in questioning the government’s decision to give vernacular schools’ Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) the freedom to decide whether the three-page long lesson on Jawi should be taught in these schools.

“Who is more powerful? The ministry or the PTA?” was her rhetorical poser, in Jawi, of course.

Since its announcement early last year, the Jawi khat policy has become a heated topic of contention particularly among the Malays and those of the Chinese educationist group Dong Jia Zhong.

The latter, claiming that they were not anti-Jawi, insisted that their objection of the policy was due to the exclusion of Chinese vernacular schools’ committee from having a say in the decision-making process.

Dong Zhong’s concern seemed valid as school committees were just as vital as the PTAs.

At least until Dong Zhong secretary-general Ng Chai Heng claimed that the policy had also fueled a fear and suspicion of creeping Islamisation among Chinese parents.

What a drama.

But to hear such a thing from Dong Zhong was not at all surprising because the group has always been headstrong in rejecting matters that it does not want.

A case in point was how the group’s ongoing refusal to include the SPM syllabus for History and Bahasa Malaysia subjects into their curriculum in exchange for government recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate — a standardised test for Chinese private high school.

The proverbial writings of Dong Zhong’s adamance in not wanting to expand its bubble to encapsulate and embrace Malaysia’s values, culture and identity in its entirety have always been written on the wall for decades.

Look, if Dong Zhong wants a certain segment of Malaysian Chinese to live in their own bubble then let them be. Maybe it’s a cosy bubble. Who knows.

For politicians to continue forcing them to accept things that they do not want to, would only result in a bitter retaliation and racially-charged statements which, consequently, will rile up the ever-smouldering Malay-Chinese racial tension — like what is happening right now.

But just when one thought that no politician can make things worse than they already are, PKR’s Fahmi Fadzil proved that such a feat can be done.

When he officiated a Chinese calligraphy workshop at his constituency two days ago, the Lembah Pantai MP claimed that “learning Chinese characters can help foster national unity.”

Seriously Fahmi? Read the mood please.

And almost on cue, the pro-Jawi Malays went amok on social media. They were having none of Fahmi’s “tactless attempt in scoring political brownie points.”

“So learning the Jawi script causes disunity and a subtle attempt to converting non-Muslim while learning Chinese calligraphy fosters unity? What a hypocrite” was one of the many tweets that criticised Fahmi’s claim.

Ah, what a way to usher in 2020.

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at zaidiazmi91@gmail.com.