Use freedom of expression with caution and ignore rhetorics for the sake of national unity, say four leaders of the Malaysian ruling coalition, the Pakatan Harapan.
The statement by the ruling coalition leaders is an attempt to cool spirits after a series of racist remarks and strong opposition by some groups against the teachings of Islamic calligraphy or Khat in vernacular schools.
The leaders of the four parties in the Pakatan, Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim, Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu made the joint statement yesterday (August 15).
“In recent days, Malaysians have talked about various issues such as the economic challenges, race and religious perceptions, the teaching of khat to development issues. Today, people can air their views easily on social and mainstream media.
“As we approach our 62nd Independence Day and 56th Malaysia Day, we should take the opportunity to think over the successes we have achieved together and the challenges which we will have to overcome to build a clean, just and successful society,” they say in a joint statement.
They urge the people to reject polemics which they say will destroy the country and ignore rhetoric affecting national unity.
Their statement is a follow up to the call by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to step up efforts to maintain peace and harmony in the country.
“We need to rebut polemics that will destroy the country. We must reject politics that will only profit the minority and not the masses”.
“To progress, we need a strong commitment, sincerity, belief in the people and a clear vision,” they say.
“Malaysia as a multi-racial and multi-religious country needs harmony and orderliness. We are made up of various races, religions and cultures. This variety must be upheld and respected by all layers of society.”
The government has since then toned down on the controversy surrounding the Khat.
The subject will now be an optional one and parents of Year Four pupils in vernacular schools will get to decide if their children will learn the Jawi —Islamic— script.
This means that Jawi will remain an optional topic for vernacular schools.