**Jangan melatah, baca dengan minda terbuka. ;)**
FW: The First Bungle - Jaga Bahasa Biar Jahanam Bangsa
(must read ...... well written by an intellectual Malay)
By Syed Akbar Ali
In one of my Four Wheel Drive trips into the jungle some
years ago , we stopped at a place called Cheneh in
Terengganu. I remember a makcik at a roadside stall made
some nice ayam goreng. My good friend Juhaidi was with me
and also my two boys.
Cheneh was (and maybe still is) a typical rural backwater.
The folks did not seem to know if they were coming or they
were going... There was Astro but I think the favorite show
was ‘Tom Tom Bak’. But I did recall saying aloud that
someday I hope that the folks in Cheneh would watch CNN , BBC
and CBS and that we could just drive up and ask the makcik
in Cheneh ‘Whats on CNN today?’ But I think that’s not
going to happen at all.
Tuan Tuan dan Puan Puan , our Prime Minister Dato Najib has
made his first bungle – and within the first 100 days too.
No Sirs , it is a major bungle. You have bungled big time.
Lets manage this “crisis in the making” now. First of
all please stop from saying anything more about the switch
from English to Malay. The more things you say , the more
“face saving” devices you will need for you to swallow
your pride before you can undo this mistake. But this
mistake must be undone.
I just happened to be with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad
yesterday Thursday July 9th 09 slightly after noon when the
news came in that the Cabinet had decided to flip flop over
the language issue.
Firstly Tun Dr Mahathir raised a simple but valid point.
The main reason quoted by Tan Sri Muhyuddin to favor the
switch to Malay was that the rural Malay kids were doing
poorly in Maths and Science (which are taught in English)
compared to the urban kids. But what about exam scores for
the rural kids in all other subjects which are taught in the
Malay language? Dr Mahathir said no one showed him the
statistics for that. Why?
If you say that English is the reason why the rural kids
are doing so poorly in Maths and Science , then by your logic
the rural kids should be scoring the same as or better than
the urban kids in other subjects that are taught in Malay?
By your logic rural kids should be doing better than the
urban kids in Sejarah , Geografi , Kemahiran Hidup , Bahasa
Malaysia and other Malay language subjects.
But we know that rural kids generally score lower than
urban kids in most subjects (except maybe Agama). And
language has got nothing to do with it. Rural kids are
usually found in lower income households , their parents are
usually less educated , they have less achievement goals and
so forth. That is why you call them ‘children from rural
areas’. They are poor people and they are underachievers.
So this comparison with rural kids and urban kids is not
fully accurate (Tun Dr Mahathir used another word which I
need not repeat here).
Let me give you some street feedback. At least one Internet
based employment agency has instructions from its clients to
completely ignore any job applicants who are graduates from
UITM (University ITM). As we know UITM graduates are all
Malays. They say the quality of the graduates is low and
their English is bad... They are unemployable. This is what I
Another preference by another employer – a Multi National
Corporation - in the job market is to take in job applicants
who are graduates of IPTA (private universities) who have
done twinning programs. This means their English is good and
they are more marketable. Again this means Malays with poor
English skills are not preferred. Bottom of the line.
And here is some news from Cyberjaya. We opened up
Cyberjaya and gave foreign investors much benefits and
incentives to open business there. Among the foreign
investments in Cyberjaya are ‘Call Centers’. Well some
‘Call Centers’ in Cyberjaya take in Indians as a first
choice for employment. They feel that generally Indians
speak better English. Second choice are Chinese. Finally
they will look at Malays as the last choice but rarely. Even
with the emphasis on English the past six years , the Malays
cannot speak enough English to get a job answering
telephones in Call Centers in Cyberjaya.
We cannot shut them down or arrest them under the ISA for
practising such discrimination. They come here for business.
We must provide them the tools necessary to run their
businesses well. We are not doing the job.
To Dato Najib and Tan Sri Muhyuddin Yassin , why are you
doing this? Who agrees with you? Who are you afraid of?
Takkan UMNO Johor is so powerful to frighten Muhyuddin?
Last nite I met a Deputy Minister and a well known “ultra
Malay” ex-newspaper editor. The Deputy Minister said it
was a bad decision to switch back to Malay. The ‘ultra
Malay’ ex-editor was visibly upset and said “I have no
comments. I don’t want to say anything.” I think he did
not agree with the switch at all.
Another well known “ultra-ultra” Malay defender of all
things Malay (if I just mention his job you will know who he
is) said the switch to Malay was ‘satu langkah ke
A Tan Sri from Kelantan said in English “this is a giant
leap backward for the Malays”...
In the present world , the English language is a ‘life
giving’ language. The amount of new knowledge and new
information that comes out in the English language is
astounding. No one can translate all the new knowledge and
information that comes out in English EACH and EVERY DAY. It
is impossible.. We have to master this language. There is no
Then we have the ‘tidak masuk akal’ ideas. Tan Sri
Muhyuddin says after the switch back to Malay , he still
wants to upgrade the teaching of English in the rural
schools. He wants to employ about 1000 native English
speakers to teach English in rural schools. By native
speaker I do not know if he is referring to Mrs Naidu from
Brickfields or if he wants to employ real Mat Sallehs from
outside the country.
Mrs Naidu the retired English teacher will gladly teach
English to our children for RM3000 per month. But we will
have to pay the Mat Sallehs RM15 , 000 a month or more before
they will come to work here.
But if that is a good idea then why not employ 1000 Mat
Sallehs at RM15000 a month to teach Maths and Science in
English in the rural schools?
Because according to Tan Sri Muhyuddin , it is not the
school children in the rural schools who are to be faulted.
The real culprits are the teachers. Muhyuddin let the cat
out of the bag. Here is what Muhyuddin said (from the
“It was based on empirical studies and other specialist
reviews , ” he said. Based on studies conducted in 2008 , he
said , the ministry found that only a small percentage of
teachers fully used English to teach the two subjects. “On
average , the percentage of those using English during
Mathematics and Science periods was around 53% to 58% , ” he
said , adding that only a small number of teachers were
proficient. Muhyiddin said studies carried out by local
universities found that students’ mastery level of English
during the entire policy was around 3% while the level among
rural students was low..”
So don’t push the blame on the rural students lah.
It is the teachers who were malas to teach in English. And
there are other reasons why some Malay teachers do not use
English. Among them are religious reasons because some
people believe that speaking English may lead to you ‘jadi
Even in the towns (including Kuala Lumpur ) it is also
considered “showing off” if Malay people speak English.
So there are other quite illogical reasons why Malay
teachers are shy to speak and teach in English. Don’t just
blame it (and quite wrongly too) on the rural school
children. That is not correct.
And even if what Tan Sri Muhyuddin is saying is indeed
true , why burden the urban kids and dim their chances at a
better future just because the rural kids are having
problems with English?
Urban kids are usually the children of parents who are more
educated , who work in office s , run businesses and generally
earn a higher income and enjoy a better standard of living.
The rural folks are usually much poorer than the urban
That is why we have to make sure that the rural folks get
the same or better opportunities to get out of the poverty
cycle and move up in life so that they too can enjoy a
standard of living like the urban people.. A good education
and the ability to converse in English is definitely one way
But what this policy reversal has done is to lower the
entire national average. Instead of moving the rural people
up the ladder , we are now moving moving the urban folks down
to the level of the rural people. We are lowering the
averages. Hang tak payah jadi pandai macam aku , biar aku
jadi bodoh macam hang !
We are nailing the Malays inside the language cocoon. We
are also creating a “non English understanding rural
poor” versus an “English speaking urban elite” divide.
The Malays who cannot speak English will be left further and
The English speaking urban folks (Malays , Chinese and
Indians) will move light years ahead of the non English
speaking folks. There will most definitely be an English
speaking elite in the country. More problems will arise.
Then we have also allowed International Schools in the
country to be opened to all Malaysians. We also have foreign
universities like Nottingham and Monash. We are basically
denying many Malays from qualifying to enter these
universities and international schools. They can go to UITM
and become more ‘cocoon infested’ and unemployable.
But very , very few kids make it to university or college in
the first place. Only 2% to 3% of the population goes to
university anyway. The large bulk of our young kids will
become school leavers (SPM or PMR) with no employable
skills , no knowledge of “life giving” English. Their
future is doomed.
Akhir sekali saya nampak peluang hidup bagi budak Melayu
dari kampong menjadi lagi tipis. Siapa yang ada tanah getah ,
mungkin akan kerja potong getah saja di kampong. Kalau tak
ada tanah getah , depa akan berhijrah ke Bandar dan pekan
untuk mencari kerja sebagai office boy , messenger dan peon.
They may even think that office boy , messenger and peon are
three different careers!