Like it or not, the hard truth is once you step out of Malaysian soil, the Malay language becomes useless and worthless, unless of course you travel to Indonesia or Brunei or to a certain extent – Singapore. Interestingly, Malay still retains the status of national language in Singapore as the language was historically the lingua franca in the region. The national anthem – “Majulah Singapura” – is entirely in Malay.
But thanks to decades of discrimination and racism policies practised by the previous Barisan Nasional government, the minorities – ethnics Chinese and Indian – find it increasing harder to justify learning the language. The only reason students in vernacular schools learn the Malay language is because the subject is compulsory by virtue of it being the official and national language.
The majority of the non-Malays send their children to vernacular school because the national school sucks and has been transformed to become religious schools. Well, it was the Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who confessed to this fact. The focus on religion has caused students ill-equipped to get jobs. Naturally, the non-Malays, especially the Chinese, ignore such school like a plague.
To make matters worse, even after the old regime was toppled and replaced with the new government of Pakatan Harapan, non-Malay students who achieved 10 As in his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and a CGPA of 4.0 in Matriculation continue to be rejected by local universities to study their preferred field of interest such as the medical degree.
If non-Malay students are systematically discriminated before they even enter the job market, what good is learning the so-called national language if discrimination becomes worse when the minorities try finding jobs in the civil service? Yes, government civil service is where the Malay language is used widely – both written and spoken.
Besides being the majority (61.7%) of the 32 million populations of Malaysia, the ethnic Malays dominate the civil service – 78.8%. The Malaysian army comprises 98% of Malays, while in the Royal Malaysia Police, 80% consists of Malays. It’s a simple supply and demand market. It isn’t rocket science that mastering the Malay language is pretty useless if you can’t find jobs as public servants.
As long as they could communicate with the owner of Malay stall selling “nasi lemak”, or filling some forms at government agencies and strike a basic conversation with government officers, there isn’t any compelling reasons the non-Malays must achieve proficiency the level of an expert in Malay language. Why would you waste time on something that offers no value in return?
And now out of the blue, the genius Education “Shoe” Minister Maszlee Malik practically bulldozed another silly pet project to the vernacular school – “Khat” writing or “Jawi” calligraphy – as part of the Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) syllabus for Year 4 primary students, scheduled to be implemented next year (2020). Of course, all hell breaks loose.
Although the Education Ministry assured NUTP (National Union of the Teaching Profession) that students would not be assessed on their mastery of the art, the ethnic minorities are not convinced. After 60 years of discrimination and racism, who can blame the ethnic Chinese and Indians to be suspicious that this could be the beginning of Islamisation of vernacular schools?
It was quite a mind-boggling idea from Mr. Maszlee, the same education minister who had been ridiculed for his black shoes policy and discriminatory matriculation programme, where he had argued that if the critics did not want the racist quota system, then jobs in the private sector should be given to Bumiputera, even if they could not speak proper English, let alone Mandarin Chinese.
But what’s wrong with forcing the Jawi scripting down the throat of Chinese and Indians primary students? Well, what’s wrong with forcing the Chinese calligraphy into the throat of Malay primary students then? There’s nothing wrong, actually. But the problem is the misplaced of priorities in enforcing the “Khat” to the extent of making it mandatory.
The Education ministry claims that the Jawi calligraphy was an art of writing that could make learning more enjoyable for pupils while teaching them beautiful handwriting. If that is true, then it should be categorised under extracurricular activities – similar to Chinese calligraphy, arts and crafts, dance and drama, abacus mental arithmetic, robotic, taekwondo and whatnot.
To claim that Jawi, which is a variant of the Arabic script, is part of Malay language, hence must be learned by Year 4 Chinese and Indian students are quite hilarious. Even the Malay-Muslim students are having trouble with the Arabic scripting, and now the empty vessel Maszlee wants the non-Malay-Muslims to be thrown into the same bandwagon.
That’s fine. After decades of being discriminated and treated as second-class citizens, the non-Malays have become super students capable of mastering at least three languages from the age of 7 onwards. Their linguistic proficiency includes the Malay, English and Mandarin languages. However, it’s unjustifiable to ask them to learn another set of “ancient language” that has very little value.
For the sake of argument, can non-Malay-Muslims, after mastering the “khat”, uses his or her skill in Jawi calligraphy to earn a living, or simply uses the art as decoration without inviting trouble from extreme Malay-Muslims who will accuse the “kafir (infidel or nonbeliever)” of mocking and insulting the Malay, Islam, King and whatnot at a later stage?
While it’s true that Jawi was the Arabic script for writing Malay language before they were Romanised up to the 1960s, it had never been part of Malay culture. In fact, it was then-Education Minister Khir Johari who abolished Jawi script from compulsory teaching in schools in 1966. Currently, the usage of Jawi script is mainly for “Islamic purposes” such as in mosques and Islamic schools.
Perhaps amused with the clueless Education Minister Maszlee Malik, former minister and socio-cultural adviser to the government Rais Yatim has called for the rejection of “Arabisation” in Malay culture – suggesting that Malay culture is losing its originality because certain Malay-Muslims dare not object to infiltration of Arab culture into the Malay culture.
To argue that the government has never objected to another form of writings, including the Chinese, so similarly the non-Malays should not object to the Jawi writings too is absolutely idiotic. The teaching of Chinese language and calligraphy has never been “forced” to Malay-Muslims. Nobody puts a gun to the head of more than 80,000 Malay children who subscribe to SJKC Chinese vernacular schools.
It was the quality education offered by the vernacular schools, and the transformation of national schools to become religious schools, that forces Malay parents to send their children to the Chinese schools. As a result of the influx of those 80,000 Malay students, the Chinese pupils suffer like sardines being packed with up to 70 students in a small classroom.
Heck, the education ministry can’t even tell for sure if “Khat” is to be learned as a Malay language or just a form of Malay-Arabic calligraphy. Either way, they could not add value to a job seeker nor help a student seeking a scholarship to further studies at top ranking universities. Instead of learning the Jawi, it would be more beneficial to use the time to strengthen the student’s grasp in English.
Empowering the Year 4 students with proficiency in English will help them to further study in “STEM fields” – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Even sending the primary students to learn to write basic computer programs using languages like Scratch, Lua, Python or Java principles through a fun game like “Minecraft” can be more profitable to the country in the long run.
We know why PM Mahathir supports his boy who politicise the education system in the khat controversy. The old man tries to hoodwink the Malay voters that under his leadership, he can suppress and oppress the ethnic Chinese even to learn primitive Arabic scripts. The premier also wants to prove that his party PPBM (Bersatu) is more Malay than UMNO-Malays and more Islam than PAS-Muslims.
Yes, this “khat” drama is nothing but Mahathir’s political stunt to trick gullible Malay-Muslims who currently do not support him to jump ship to his camp. Unfortunately, the innocent students become collateral damage in the 94-year-old prime minister’s selfish desire to enlarge his base. He knew the vernacular schools have no choice but to reluctantly learn the Jawi which was abandoned 50 years ago.
Source : Finance Twitter