As DAP veteran Liew Ah Kim said, it is much easier to introduce Jawi calligraphy at schools than to stop it in future.
His words should serve as a timely warning for people who blindly follow, condone and feel indifferent to the controversial educational policy.
There are plenty of people who do not see the urgency of this matter because they believe in some political leaders who have strongly endorsed the introduction of Jawi calligraphy at Chinese primary schools, thinking that this is just a minor issue with no specific agenda behind.
I would like to ask:
1. Once Jawi calligraphy has made its way into our SJKCs, is there any chance for it to make an exit any time in future?
2. Now that Year 4 students are made to learn Jawi, will Year 5 and 6 students also have to do the same very soon?
3. Part of the school boards' power is being denied today, and is it possible they may lose all their powers one day?
Once the flood gate is opened, disastrous consequences may ensue. Chinese education is like a thick wall, and the little crack that we allow today may very well bring the whole wall down some day.
Five months ago, the newly raised Jawi calligraphy issue sparked tremendous backlash from the Malaysian Chinese community, but the cabinet approved it anyway.
“Jawi calligraphy will only be taught with the consent of the PTA, parents and students,” it said.
To be honest, the cabinet's decision was not wholly acceptable to the Chinese community, Dong Jiao Zong and other Chinese organisations, mainly because the school boards were excluded from the decision-making process.
People generally thought it was a compromise on the part of the government. As such, opposition voices have since weakened and the local Chinese community began to adopt a wait-and-see attitude with the hope the government would show some sincerity in resolving this matter amicably.
No one would foresee that even a cabinet decision could be just a guise meant to momentarily pacify the frustrated public.
The recently released guidelines are a different story altogether: Seni Khat will be taught in a school with at least 51% of parents agreeing to it.
Prior to this, many believed that indeed the PTA, parents and students all had the right to decide, and the curriculum would not be introduced so long as any party, or even any single individual, did not approve of it.
In addition, if a school fails to return the questionnaires within 14 days, it will be seen as accepting the teaching of Jawi calligraphy.
In the meantime, incorporating Jawi calligraphy in the Standard Document for Curriculum and Assessment (DSKP) means it will some day become a part of the regular school curriculum and may even be an examinable module in future.
With the education ministry now openly defying the cabinet decision, we can't help but ask how our ministers, in particular ethnic Chinese ones, will look at the question of a failed promise? Do they ever have the slightest feel that they have betrayed the people's trust?
I have no answers to those questions because for the past couple of days, these ministers have remained largely silent, never uttering a word as if this whole thing has nothing to do with them.
As for deputy minister Teo Nie Ching, her answers to media questions on Jawi calligraphy have been either evasive or irrelevant at best.