‘Khat controversy shows nation hyper-sensitive to racial, religious issues’

06 Aug 2019 / 18:47 H.

THE issue of introducing khat in the education syllabus has shown that Malaysians have become too hyper-sensitive on anything that touches on race and religion, according to Terengganu Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad.

Furthermore, he said, everything tended to be misconstrued and angled along religious and racial lines.

“Gone are the days when citizens were more understanding and accommodating,“ he said when commenting on the outcry over the khat issue.

Raja Kamarul said the issue had begun to “poison the atmosphere” and “hate and anger are brewing” across the country.

The Education Ministry had announced recently that khat — the Malay-Arabic calligraphy — would be introduced as part of the Bahasa Malaysia syllabus, drawing flak from several quarters.

Raja Kamarul said Malaysians should learn to look at things in a more objective manner instead of politicising them.

He pointed out that the old Utusan Melayu used to publish a Jawi edition before it changed to the Romanised script after being re-branded. “And the Malays then had no issue with the change,“ he remarked.

“Many Malaysians, regardless of race, used to learn Jawi, and they did not see it as an intrusion. And when Utusan romanised their Jawi script, did the Malays at that time think they were being Christianised?” he questioned.

A Bernama report also quoted Perak Mufti Tan Sri Dr Harussani Zakaria as saying that the Malay language and Jawi script, including khat, were inseparable, like the Malay proverb “Ibarat aur dengan tebing”, based on the history of Malaya.

He feels the introduction and use of Jawi script and khat should be supported by everyone as the strength of the civilisation depended on the appreciation of past history. He cites countries like Turkey, which has re-introduced its national language and original script, and Korea and Japan where students need to pass their exams in the national language and script before entering university.

Besides, Harussani said that Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah was all for the Jawi script to be preserved as a national heritage. The mufti dismissed allegations that students would be converted to Islam when learning khat or Jawi. “People of various races in the country have learnt Jawi and the Malay language (before) which reflected the spirit of unity among Malaysians,“ he said.

Perhaps only those who experienced the days of old and current times as a Malaysian race will be able to relate to what it felt like then and now. “At that time, nobody had this phobia about there being an attempt to convert the Muslims. Today, I think there is a certain phobia when it comes to the Arabic language and characters, and people tend to have a very narrow view about it,“ stated Raja Kamarul.

Khat has made it big not only on social media. It has sparked a frenzy among Malaysians, many debating the issues surrounding the Malay-Arabic calligraphy, which we all now know as khat.

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