A PKR lawmaker today suggested that the government offer khat as an elective subject at the secondary level and take measures to improve basic use of Bahasa Malaysia at Chinese-type primary schools.
Bukit Tambun assemblyperson Goh Choon Aik said this was based on his experience heading a parent-teacher association at an SJKC for six years.
"I fully understand the students' weaknesses in BM, and often tried to find ways to strengthen the use of the language at SJKC.
"However, I felt very sad because not only did the Education Ministry fail to take necessary measures to improve the use of BM among SJKC students, they moved to introduce khat to students who are not familiar with it," he said in a statement today.
Rather than incorporating khat into the Bahasa Malaysia syllabus, Goh suggested that it should be made into an elective subject at the secondary level.
His statement comes amid objections from a group of 138 DAP branch and division leaders, along with 11 state assemblypersons, who claim that the move would institutionalise and politicise the Jawi script.
Goh, however, insisted that he was not a race or religious "extremist," despite sharing their concerns about the introduction of khat, which is scheduled to begin next year.
The lawmaker noted that he was born and raised in a Malay village, and uses Bahasa Malaysia to communicate during state assembly meetings or other official functions.
Education Minister Maszlee Malik previously said the move to introduce khat for Year 4 students was not aimed at "establishing Islamisation in vernacular schools."
In addition to fostering a beautiful writing style, Maszlee also said the introduction of khat would enable students to recognise the country's heritage and identity.
Earlier today, he also indicated the ministry's willingness to discuss a suggestion by Chinese educationists for other forms of calligraphy other than khat to be taught in schools.