By parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 2.6.1984:
DAP calls for removal of Jawi from the Bahasa Malaysia syllabus and be categorised as one of the optional ‘Pupil’s Own Language’ subjects
The handing of the ‘Jawi compulsory subject’ issue seems to confirm a pattern of the modus operandi of the Deputy Minister of Education, Dr. Tan Tiong Hong, which is to use denial as a delaying tactic to evade his responsibility over educational issues at least until he had left the Education Ministry when he would have no more responsibility.
The people must have been reminded of the earlier instance of the controversy over the Std. V. Assessment Test history subject question which rejects Yap Ah Loy’s role as the founder of Kuala Lumpur, where Dr. Tan said he had spoken to the education officials concerned and had received an assurance that there would be no recurrence of such bias in future examination questions.
Yet, even at that time, one wondered why the Examination Board did not make a public statement on the matter itself, for there is nothing to prevent them from reproducing such historical bias against Yap Ah Loy a few years later on the ground that the pronouncements of Dr. Tan Tiong Hong binds himself alone!
I have the distinct feeling that Dr. Tan is resorting to the same tactics now the Jawi compulsory subject issue. After the appearance of the statement by the Federal Territory Deputy Director of Education, Haji Zainal Abidin Haji Bahaudin, in the New Straits Times Actionline of May 31, 1984, that Jawi is now compulsory for all pupil as it is regarded as part of the compulsory Bahasa Malaysia subject, Dr. Tan Tiong Hong told Sin Chew Jit Poh on 1st June 1984 that he had sought clarification from Haji Zainal Abidin, who claimed that he had been misquoted by the Actionline reporter, and that the Actionline reporter would publish a correction on the very next day.
But there has been no such correction in the New Straits Times either for June 1 or June 2, In fact, the New Straits Times in publishing a brief report of statement in the issue in today’s press, reiterated the quotation from Haji Zainal Abidin that Jawi was now compulsory for all primary school pupis.
I find it very difficult to accept or belive that Incik Zainal Bahauddin hhad been misquoted in Actionline, for had he intented to deny that Jawi was compulsory for all pupils, he would not have to give such a protracted explaination as to why Jawi had acquired a compulsory status.
It is now clear that the pressure for having Jawi a compulsory subject is gaining increasing pressure and momentum. However, as the Malaysian Constitution and the National Language Act 1967 made is clear that Jawi is not the Official and National Language, the Barisan Nasional would not dare at this stage to openly admit having this regulation unless the Official and National Language Act is amended to include the Jawi script of Bahasa Malaysia – as had been proposed by various extremist organisations.
But some Ministry of Education officials and Bahasa Malaysia teachers have take for granted that for practical purpose, Jawi is a compulsory subject, as sooner or later, the National Language Act would be ameded to provide for it.
This is most unacceptable and a gross violation of the constitutional rights of Malaysians. If Datuk Dr. Tan Tiong Hong is doing his duty, then he should be effective watchdog to ensure that every person who forces non-Malay students to learn Jawi should be disciplined and punished. Even Haji Zainal Bahauddin should be disciplined for justifying the actions of teacher who force non-Malay pupils to learn Jawi.
The DAP proposes that Jawi should be removed from Bahasa Malaysia syllabus and be regarded as one of the optional ‘Pupil’s Own Language’ like Mandarin and Tamil, to conclude once and for all the high-handed actions by a group of extremist Education Ministry officials and teachers who seek to commit the unconstitutional act of imposing Jawi on all non-Malay pupils