Their reactions to these matters betray a sense of trepidation, which they assume undermined their status as citizens.

THE issues involving the implementation of Jawi/khat and preacher Dr Zakir Naik have created a furore among politicians, non-governmental organisations and the public.

Their reactions to these matters betray a sense of trepidation, which they assume undermined their status as citizens.

Such sentiments and adversarial stance may be due to overreaction of not having cognizance of the actual situation, as well as the result of trust deficit among the various segments of society.

In the case of the Jawi script, it was misconstrued as an attempt at proselytisation towards Islamisation.

Another misconception is that it burdens students with archaic knowledge that has no relevance in the current world.

Then there is the issue of Zakir, a Muslim preacher, whose supposedly incendiary remarks ignited a fiery response from certain quarters who felt threatened.

The Jawi incident negates the heritage, viability and relevance of a script that was the mainstay of all aspects of governance, economy, trade and literary and artistic expressions. It is as relevant as before in today’s international engagement and commerce.

Likewise, Zakir’s stark assertion on loyalty of certain segments of society is not based on facts or even hearsay. One should not be rattled by such baseless assertions.

The Malay proverb, di mana bumi di pijak, di situ langit dijunjung, which means that we stand committed to the ethos and covenants and uphold the pride and integrity of the nation, hopefully, exemplifies Malaysians.

We submit to the national aspiration not by mere words but by deeds.

Thus, we should not allow these issues to overwhelm us to the extent that they provoke negative instincts that have lain dormant in our subconscious minds.

We need to get our priorities right.

Instead of expending invaluable effort on such inconsequential issues, it is best that out energies are committed to matters that create goodwill and wellbeing among our citizenry.

MOHAMED GHOUSE NASURUDDIN

Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang

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