Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jawi road signs in KL

by Bernard Cheahmailto:Cheahnewsdesk@thesundaily.com

KUALA LUMPUR: Road signs in Kuala Lumpur have started including directions in Jawi as part of the government’s effort to promote Islam Hadhari (civilisational Islam) and tourism.
“This will help tourists from the Middle East identify places in the city. But we’re not confi ning the new signage to tourist spots alone,” said City Hall (DBKL) public works department director Siti Saffur Mansor yesterday. “It’s also a chance for non-Muslims to know and learn Jawi,” she said.

She was responding to complaints by some residents and the Opposition over the change in signage in certain areas.

Siti Saffur said the plans and budget for the new signages were approved by City Hall. The conversion, to be done in phases,has already been completed in Bandar Tun Razak, Taman

Seputeh and Taman Tan Yew Lai while Jinjang is currently undergoing the change.

Taman Tan Yew Lai residents, who are mostly Chinese and Indians, have since last week opposed the change after more than 10 new signages in the housing area appeared with the Jawi script printed above the Bahasa Malaysia street name. Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, who is also DAP publicity secretary, said it was a waste of funds to change the signage because each one costs between RM1,000 and RM2,000. She said the changes gave the impression that Malaysia was moving towards becoming an Islamic state.

Jawi is, however, merely the Arabic alphabet, and like all other alphabets, does not inherently denote a particular religion.

However, OUG Heights residents’ association committee member Ronnie Teoh said the new road signage does not refl ect multicultural Malaysia. “Why don’t they put in Chinese and Tamil as well?” he asked. He said Bahasa Malaysia should suffi ce for all road signs.

“How many people (in this area) can actually read Jawi? Some postal officers can’t even read Jawi,” said Bukit OUG Condominium residents’association committee member Raymond Lim.
“Taxpayers’ money should have been used to repair roads and drains in the area instead,” said Villa OUG residents’ association president Gary Chong, pointing to the area’s poor road conditions.

Kok said she will prepare a signature campaign for all residents associations and draft a memorandum to be presented to the Mayor Datuk Abdul Hakim Borhan to convey the residents’ views.

She said she would also seek an appointment with the mayor over the matter.

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