(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): DAP
fully supports the call by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad
to Malaysian students to master English as “necessary for communication and
essential to keep abreast of developments in the technical fields such as
engineering and science”.
to Malaysian students in the United States at the Malaysian Embassy in
Washington before the end of this trip to the US, Mahathir said that with Bahasa
Melayu, Malaysians had found that people were unable to interact with foreigners
in a way which was productive.
government has been talking about the decline of the standard of English
language in the past two decades and the urgent need to arrest it, but it had
nothing to show for the results.
can be no dispute as to the importance of English as a global language in the
era of globalisation and information and communications technology.
English is the dominant language of commerce, of science, of the skies,
of the Internet and of opportunity.
is the official language of in more than 75 countries. Although 1.2 billion
people speak Chinese as their mother tongue, more than 1.5 billion people speak
English as their mother-tongue or use it as a second or foreign language.
Plans are afoot for some 300 million people Chinese in China to learn to
speak and use English.
European Union uses English alongside French at its informal gatherings, even
though Europe has more native German and Italian speakers. In Japan, the
government had said that the tongue of its onetime enemies should become its
second official language to “achieve world-class excellence”.
In Dutch-speaking Netherlands, some government officials recently
proposed switching the language of education to English - the language of most
all scientific organizations use English, partly because most relevant
literature and terminology is in English and partly because scientists want to
spend time on science, not on translation.
urgent question for Malaysia is not whether English is an important global
language which Malaysians must master if we are not to continue to lose our edge
of international competitiveness, but what immediate actions to
take to arrest the catastrophic decline of the standard of English and to
achieve a turnaround to the high
standard of English three decades ago.
the short-lived four-day invitation by the Prime Minister the previous week to
the Malaysian public for their feedback as to whether the people want a
re-introduction of the English medium school system to arrest the decline of the
standard of English, the UMNO Supreme Council overrode the Cabinet decision on
the matter and decided on 10th May against the re-introduction of
the English-medium school system and proposed instead that science and
mathematics be taught in English starting from Standard One.
the Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad confirmed the very next day that
science and mathematics will be taught in English and that a committee had been
set up under the Education director-general Datuk Abdul Rafie Mahat to implement
this decision, Malaysians are entitled to know whether the Education Ministry
had earlier commissioned expert studies on the matter.
and parents are legitimately concerned whether with the present low standards in
English, Mathematics and Science, without major reforms in the infrastructure of
the education system for the teaching and learning of English, the teaching of
science and mathematics in English from Standard One would be a cure worse than
the disease resulting in further lowering of the standards of Mathematics and
Science without any significant increase in English fluency.
should make public all the studies which the Education Ministry had carried out
which positively demonstrated that the immediate introduction of the teaching of
Mathematics and Science in English from Standard One is the best and most
effective method to arrest the decline of the English standard
in the schools - as parents are equally concerned about the decision.
believe the decision with the most far-reaching effects in generally raising the
standard of English in schools is to make a pass in English compulsory for SPM,
STPM and matriculation examinations, which should be seriously considered
and decided by the Cabinet on Wednesday.
Cabinet should also establish an all-party committee to launch a nation-wide
campaign to promote the learning and use of English among the people to restore
Malaysia’s international competitiveness edge lost as a result of the
unchecked decline in the standard of English in the past three decades - so that
this problem is tackled in a non-partisan manner transcending the pressures of
political party competition.