I have never said that one must learn Jawi to be a Malaysian – all I said was learning Jawi did not “make me any less of a Chinese, and may have helped in making me more of a Malaysian”
A friend has sent me a newspaper headline which quoted me as saying: “Learn Jawi To Be More Malaysian”.
I have never said one must learn Jawi to be a Malaysian – all I said in my statement from Salem, Tamil Nadu yesterday was learning Jawi while I was serving my first detention in Muar in 1969 did not “make me any less of a Chinese, and may have helped in making me more of a Malaysian”.
Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation and we should leverage on our unique position where the great Islamic, Chinese, Indian and Western civilisations meet in confluence in Malaysia to build a great Malaysian nation.
We must be careful not to fall into the trap of conspirators who want to pit race against race, religion against religion to arouse suspicion, distrust and hatred in our plural society to regain political power and work against the flowering of the best of our multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.
Just as a Malay who can speak and write in Chinese does not make him or her less of a Malay in Malaysia, a Chinese who knows Jawi does not make him or her less of a Malaysian Chinese. Probably, the additional acquisition of another language make him or her a better Malaysian – but there must be no compulsion in the learning of another tongue!
In Chennai and Salem, I had referred to the OECD Economic Survey on Malaysia July 2019 which made four key recommendations for educational reform in Malaysia, viz:
- Lower the school starting age to at least 5 and make secondary schooling compulsory.
- Provide incentives and implement rotation schemes to attract more qualified and experienced teachers to disadvantaged schools.
- Continue efforts to reduce teacher administrative workload so that teachers can spend more time preparing lessons or participating in mentoring or professional development activities.
- Adopt a more student-centred teaching approach and put more emphasis on developing communicational skills.
I said that “the pressing importance in Malaysia with regard to education” is to introduce reforms so that Malaysian students in international assessments, whether in TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) or PISA (Programme for International Srudents Assessment) can attain above global average results and be ranked in the top one-third of world countries instead of being placed in the lower one-third bracket as is the position today.
We should be discussing educational reform proposals to make Malaysia a top world-class nation in education.