Students hold KL protest in support of Jawi

Organised by the Malaysian Muslim Students Coalition (Gamis), the peaceful gathering yesterday was held despite a police warning that the organiser had failed to obtain a permit for the march. PHOTO: GAMISMALAYSIA/FACEBOOK
Organised by the Malaysian Muslim Students Coalition (Gamis), the peaceful gathering yesterday was held despite a police warning that the organiser had failed to obtain a permit for the march. PHOTO: GAMISMALAYSIA/FACEBOOK

KUALA LUMPUR • About 300 Muslim students gathered yesterday to protest against Chinese educationist group Dong Zong for opposing a Malaysian government plan to introduce Jawi writing in Chinese and Tamil schools.

The peaceful gathering, organised by the Malaysian Muslim Students Coalition (Gamis), was held despite a warning by the police on Tuesday that the organiser had failed to obtain a permit from Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the police for the march.

The police did not interfere with the protest held outside a popular mall in downtown Kuala Lumpur. The college students held up placards and banners while listening to speeches by several speakers.

One large banner in Jawi, complete with a clenched fist painted in red, read, "People, rise to defend Jawi". A placard read: "Undergraduates rise to defend Jawi".

Earlier, about 150 students assembled at the Masjid Jamek Kuala Lumpur, a historic mosque, and were planning to march to the mall nearby. But they were advised against doing so by Gamis president Saifullah Baiduri because holding a march without a proper permit is an offence, Malay Mail online news reported.

Ethnic tensions rose last week after Chinese education groups - the United Chinese Schools Teachers' Association (Jiao Zong) and the United Chinese School Committees' Association (Dong Zong) - planned to hold a protest congress against the introduction of Jawi.

Last August, the ministry surprised most people by saying it would include Jawi writing in the Year 4 (Primary 4) syllabus of Bahasa Melayu in vernacular schools, raising concerns over creeping Islamisation.

Vernacular schools are run independently of national schools and students, mainly Malays, are taught Jawi writing as part of Islamic studies.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2020, with the headline 'Students hold KL protest in support of Jawi'. Print Edition | Subscribe