“This fear of Jawi is as irrational as the fear of crosses” – @syahredzan

Deputy Minister of Education Teo Nie Ching’s announcement on implementing khat writing (Jawi calligraphy) in the Malay language syllabus across all the schools in Malaysia, including vernacular schools, received criticisms from politicians within her same party (DAP) and the opposition (MCA and Gerakan).


Undoubtedly, the issue became trendy on social media. The topic peaked on Twitter on August 4.


The Twitter network regarding the mandatory Jawi syllabus in Bahasa Melayu subject can be separated into three major clusters – blue, red and green.



The biggest cluster is blue with @adrianlimcheeen, @ladymissazira and @syahredzan as influencers.


@adrianlimcheeen tweeted his theory on how UMNO and MCA used the khat issue to attack the Pakatan Harapan government.



It received almost 400 likes and retweets. However, the comments he received were divided.


Meanwhile, @ladymissazira defended khat implementation by stating that it is art, culture and history.



Although her tweet received a low number of comments, it gained tremendous number of likes and retweets.


Whereas @syahredzan, the Twitter account of Lim Kit Siang’s political secretary, tweeted that it is irrational to fear the Jawi writing. On a side note, Kit Siang expressed his support on the Jawi syllabus, saying that the language will not make a person lose his/her race, language and culture.



Like @adrianlimcheeen and @ladymissazira, the tweet by @syahredzan did not receive many comments but the number of retweets and likes were over 900 and 1,100 respectively.


On the other hand, the red cluster had @khairulryezal and @RidzwanMahazan as influencers. This cluster linked the Jawi language with China and Chinese writing.


@khairulryezal shared images of China’s banknote in his tweet, showing that even China has Jawi writing on their banknotes.



@RidzwanMahazan explained that Jawi originated from the Arabic alphabet but was adjusted accordingly by the Malays.


Besides, he used Kanji (Japanese writing) as comparison, stating that it was adopted from Chinese writing by the Japanese.



Lastly, the green cluster only had one influencer, @emaneous. Unlike the blue and red clusters, the tweets from this group were not political.



@emanous challenged @ayyputeri to write ‘terowong’ (tunnel) in Jawi as it is a difficult to write. Subsequently, other users joined in the thread and tried to write the word in Jawi.


Then, @ayyputeri took part in #JawiChallenge which was created amidst the Jawi syllabus issue. For the challenge, participants must write words given by others in Jawi.


Overall, most of the influencers of the Jawi syllabus on Twitter are supportive on the matter. However, the responses they received were divided.