(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): Four
days after saying that the government was willing to re-introduce the
English-medium school system to arrest the decline of the standard of English
“if the people want it”, the
Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad himself shot down the idea
after a meeting of the UMNO Supreme Council meeting yesterday.
said the UMNO Supreme Council rejected the proposal to reintroduce
English-medium schools on the ground that it would be contrary to the National
Education Policy and proposed instead that Science and Mathematics be taught in
four-day window for public opinion seeking, which saw support for the
reintroduction of English-medium schools among some educationists,
politicians, community leaders, unionists and parents
including the Kedah Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Syed Razak Syed Zain, must
rank as the shortest in the nation’s history, and raises the question whether
the Prime Minister and the government are serious in wanting public feedbacks on
the important issues of the standard of English, the education system and
Malaysia’s competitiveness in the international marketplace.
are entitled to ask why the UMNO Supreme Council should have the sole and final
say on issues of national importance like how to arrest the unchecked decline of
English standard in the country and whether there should be a re-introduction of
English-medium schools, why the views of the other Barisan Nasional component
parties were not sought and treated with such open contempt, and why no proper
mechanism for public feedbacks on the issue was put in place before it was
summarily dismissed after the short-lived four-day public opinion seeking.
the past three decades, when the
standard of English in Malaysia suffered its worst decline, the three current senior-most UMNO
leaders had held the portfolio of the Education Ministry, namely Mahathir
himself, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the
Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and as such, they
are among the handful who must bear the greatest responsibility
for Malaysia’s plunge in
international competitiveness because of the collapse of the standard of
English in the country.
efforts in the past decade to raise the standard of English had not only come to
nought, but seen a further dive in the standard of English in the schools and
instance, the outcome of the Second
Outline Perspective Plan 1991-2000 to give greater importance to the teaching of English as a second
language in order to stem the decline in the standard of English had only
produced a situation where about 60 per cent of school heads in the country had
a very poor command of the English language!
This recent statement by the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP)
had not been contested by the Education Ministry.
problem of the unchecked decline of the standard of English has become too
chronic and protracted. The
Malaysian public should be allowed adequate time to consider and give their views on how to arrest the decline
and enhance the standard of English in the schools and universities, including the
proposal for the reintroduction of the English-medium school system, and for
this reason, DAP proposes the establishment of an
all-party committee to be tasked with the terms of reference to invite
representations and submit a report on this issue within a year.