(Bentong, Sunday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said in Ipoh yesterday that the issue of the use of English in the teaching of mathematics and science should not be politicised as it is not an element of politics but relates to a language for the acquisition of knowledge.
agree that this is a serious educational issue and I call on him not to clamp
down on media and democratic space for full debate on the educational merits and
demerits of the use of English to teach mathematics and science in primary
schools from Std. One, whether for national, Chinese or Tamil primary schools.
research on bilingual education worldwide in the past three decades have shown
that using a second language as a medium of instruction from too early stages
can impede the development of thinking skills of children
resulting in low achievements in mathematics, science and languages.
Prime Minister prepared to allow a full public debate on the educational merits
and demerits of the use of English to teach mathematics and science in primary
schools from Std. One, with the Education Ministry taking a full part by producing
educational studies, surveys and supporting grounds for such a move?
warning given by the Prime Minister to “certain newspapers” which had
allegedly “fanning racial sentiments to the extent of creating unrest” over
the issue is most unfortunate, as it is not only untrue but would have the
effect of shutting out open and free discussion on the educational merits of the
open attack in naming Jiao Zong adviser Sim Moh Yee as
leading “extremists” to
provoke the Chinese community “by
saying that the proposal was a prelude to the Government closing down Chinese
schools or turning them into national schools”, and even categorizing Sim in
the group of people who had wanted to create a “Little China” or a province
of China in the past is most
deplorable and irresponsible and I call on MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers and
leaders to publicly defend Sim’s patriotic contributions to Chinese education
as an integral part of Malaysian education, the Chinese community as part of
Malaysian society and the Malaysian nation in his entire public life.
Before the 1999 general election, Mahathir and other
UMNO leaders praised Chinese education and Chinese educationists for
their great contribution to nation-building and manpower education, and Sim was
even honoured by the Yang di Pertuan Agong for his contribution to education and
Why have Sim and the Dong Jiao Zong leaders suddenly become
“anti-national” and disloyal elements after the 1999 general election,
becoming the target of UMNO and UMNO Youth attacks on the eve of the 43rd
National Day two years ago over the Suqiu issue and now again over the use of
English to teach mathematics and science in primary schools?
Why are some
UMNO and UMNO Youth leaders trying to manufacture
“a gathering storm” in the Malaysian political scene, reminiscent of the scenario before the 43rd National Day two
years ago or before the Operation Lalang mass arrests 15 years ago in 1987?
Malaysia cannot afford another national crisis like the
Operation Lalang crackdown on democracy and human rights – as the immediate
casualty will be Malaysia’s economic recovery resulting from a further erosion
of Malaysia’s international
competitiveness already in a critical
stage in a changed global and regional context following China’s entry into
the WTO, outdistancing South East
Asia as the magnet for foreign direct investments.
Furthermore, there is simply no justification for the
engineering another artificial
national crisis for another
Operation Lalang mass arrests over the issue of the use of English to teach
mathematics and science in primary schools – which has
raised the legitimate concerns about its educational merits among parents
and citizens of all races, Malay, Chinese and Indian and its
educational and nation-building effects on the new generation of young
Let Malaysia show the world that Malaysian nation-building on the eve of the 45th National Day is not so fragile and that Malaysians have the maturity to debate and decide on issues on how to enhance Malaysia’s international competitiveness and educational questions like the use of English to teach mathematics and science in primary schools from Std.One without plunging the country into a new national crisis of inter and intra-ethnic tensions.