KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian police have been given a court order to stop Chinese educationists from holding a congress on Saturday (Dec 28) to protest against the government's move to introduce Jawi writing into Chinese and Tamil schools, local media reports say.
Police on Friday (Dec 27) urged the public not to attend the congress which was to be held in Kajang town, Selangor, or other events related to the controversial Jawi issue, fearing "riots".
"There were many police reports lodged across the country regarding the congress. To preserve public order and safety, the police, especially the Kajang district police, have applied for the order to prevent disturbance against public order that could cause public anxiety in this district," Kajang police chief Ahmad Dazffir Mohd Yussof was quoted by MalayMail.com new site as saying in a statement.
The meeting was being organised by Chinese education group Dong Jiao Zong, representing the United Chinese Schools Teachers' Association (Jiao Zong) and the United Chinese School Committees' Association (Dong Zong).
The plan to hold the congress was opposed by many Malay groups, stoking racial tensions.
Even Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is against the idea of holding the congress. He said last week: "That will only result in Malays having their congress and talking about closing down Chinese schools and all that. You do that kind of thing, you will get a reaction."
He added: "If you start making attacks against other races or going against the Constitution, the end result will be chaos, instability and everybody will be poorer for it and we will see a lot of Malaysians migrating to other countries."
According to a document cited by Malaysiakini news site, Magistrate Syahrul Sazly Md Sain granted an application by police to stop the congress from being held.
"The court finds that a restriction order was needed and was issued ex-parte immediately in view that the meeting will be held tomorrow and based on latest information by the applicants (the police) which found that there would be riots if the meeting was allowed to take place," Malaysiakini cited the document as saying.
The news site did not say where the document was from. But it quoted an organiser of the meeting, Low Chee Cheong, as saying a notice was served on Dong Zong by the police at 5.10pm.
There are more than 1,200 Chinese and 523 Tamil primary schools in Malaysia, that use either Mandarin or Tamil as the medium of instruction.
In August, the Education Ministry surprised most people by saying it would include Jawi writing in the Primary 4 syllabus of these minority-run schools, raising concerns over creeping Islamisation.
These schools are run independently of national schools, where the students, mainly Malays, are taught Jawi writing as part of Islamic studies.
Khat, as Jawi calligraphy is called in Malaysia, is the writing of the Malay language using Arabic script.
Older Malays see it as an integral part of their Malay-Muslim culture as Jawi was the predominant script for Malays until it was supplanted by Roman script.
Khat can be seen across the country on many road signs, state emblems and the ringgit currency.
Chinese community leaders are especially peeved with the Pakatan Harapan government over the issue, as more than 90 per cent of Malaysian Chinese voted for the four-party coalition in last year's general election, hoping for a more consultative New Malaysia.
At the same time, some Malays are angry at the strong Chinese pushback as they see the learning of khat by minorities as an integral part of living in a Malay-majority country.