Tensions rise again over Jawi writing in Malaysia

Resistance to government's move to teach script in Chinese, Tamil primary schools

The Malaysian flag seen at a sports event. Khat, as Jawi calligraphy is called in Malaysia, is the writing of the Malay language using Arabic script.
The Malaysian flag seen at a sports event. Khat, as Jawi calligraphy is called in Malaysia, is the writing of the Malay language using Arabic script. PHOTO: REUTERS

Chinese education groups are holding a congress tomorrow to pressure the Malaysian government into scrapping the introduction of Jawi writing in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, despite being urged to drop it by top leaders, including Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and MP Anwar Ibrahim.

This has again stoked racial tensions, as Malay-Muslim groups joined in the fray, after the issue erupted when the Pakatan Harapan government in August surprised many people by announcing that it would introduce Jawi writing in both Chinese and Tamil language schools.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 27, 2019, with the headline 'Tensions rise again over Jawi writing in Malaysia'. Subscribe