The Need Of English Language For Us Today - January 2009

Being patriotic about defending the Bahasa Malaysia issue is commendable. This is equivalent to the fighting spirit of our warriors in defending the sovereignty of the country. They fought with all their might and blood to their last breath, not unlike the need to champion the use of our mother tongue – indeed a very wise gesture simply because language carries the identity of a nation.

However upon achieving independence from these aspects - academically, economically, socially, culturally and mentally they should be able to view the world in a more mature manner. Learn to crawl out of their safety nets which have been keeping them warm all this while. We were bestowed with a good sense of intelligence for a purpose. But being loud indiscriminately with emotional sentiment is never a part of it.

We should have a high sense of confidence towards having strong faith in our mother tongue. This is mandatory in every Malay-speaking person. Then why are we nervous about English being used as a global communication tool which is needed by all Malaysians and the world today?

If we are mature enough, we should be able to accept the importance of both languages by relying on one another. Like the old Malay saying “Seperti Aur Dengan Tebing”( Like the river and its bank ). By denying the priority of English in an effort to uphold Bahasa Malaysia we are at the losing end. Why don’t we make a sincere effort in adopting this saying “Menarik Benang Dari Dalam Tepung – Benang Tak Putus, Tepung Tak Tumpah”. ( Pulling the thread from a bowl of flour. The thread is not ripped, the flour is not spilled ).

To be able to communicate effectively in English is very critical, more so in a highly competitive world today. It is only logical for us to race against time in grabbing the golden opportunity to do so. In most European countries as well as in the United States, the ability to master a few foreign languages is considered normal. This is a reality. Unfortunately for us here, this pride of every mankind is seen as something negative. What a shame!

To add salt to the wound, we have academicians, linguists, laureates and highly respected people joining in the band wagon and portraying immaturity to the world.

The issue of English as a tool in an academic context is now getting complicated. To me, this is amusing. Imagine a rich and high profile family having not just limousines but private jets. Suddenly, out of the blue they argue and insist on using buffalos once again as a form of transportation. How silly that is. Not only is their time lost, but also the status, reputation and comfort. The world is laughing at them. I believe that we must move forward. Not the other way round.

Let us look at this analogy. The foreign workers currently flocking our country are racing against each other to learn Bahasa Malaysia - hoping they could be accepted as one of us. Be it Nepalese, Bangladeshis, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Pakistanis and many more. As we hear them communicating in Bahasa, we spontaneously feel the closeness. Though they are just our workers, but the gift of the gab is creating the comfort. Are we not keen to learn from them?

Realistically, the world is looking at us the same way. If we could effectively communicate with them in a common language understood by all, we are now a part of them. What more if we could master their mother tongue.

Once Bahasa Malaysia is endorsed as the language for Science and Mathematics in school, our next generation will have to start crawling to learn English again in their tertiary education. This is due to the fact that there are limited books written in Bahasa Malaysia for references. Imagine if they are doing their Doctorates. Do we have sufficient good materials? This is not going to help them at all.

Like it or not, we are always being called ‘Jaguh Kampung’. So with hard work, high spirit and enthusiasm, we produce new generation of Malaysian set to conquer the world with Bahasa Malaysia. However, is the world ready for us?

We might still want to argue the fact that French, Mandarin and Japanese are considered world languages. As such, we could also work into the possibility of pushing Bahasa Malaysia for the same status. But what we fail to realize is the fact that their civilization are much earlier than us. To start with, their resilience, hard work, creativity, focus, achievements and success are at a different level altogether. However, their endorsement towards English is undivided.

The battle of career opportunity in the corporate world today is tough. Where are our Malay graduates in this competition? Why are they not being the preferred choice among employers? Though there are voices talking about favoritism. The reality is they are left behind due to their inability to communicate effectively in English.

Have we ever asked ourselves – why we are the only one aggressively championing this issue? Why the Chinese never dwell into the issue of choosing Mandarin or English? Or the Indians arguing either Tamil or English are the priority to them. Ironically, their self spirit towards their language and culture is undivided.

While we are cat fighting towards upholding Bahasa, not only they mastered English and their own mother tongue, other Malaysians are also good in Bahasa. Let us see the laureates, academician, linguists, politicians and public in general. They have good command of Bahasa.

Looking at the lighter side of it. Why cant we learn from the humble Bangladeshis, Myanmaris, Nepalese or Pakistanis here in Malaysia? Without going to any classes, they slowly mastered Malay like no other. This is a simple sense of survival. How about us? Shooting our own foot and rejects English.

Rather than dwelling into these petty issues, why not we instill the spirit of wanting to learn languages? So we could also be expert not only in English, but Tamil and Mandarin as well.

Would not this be the catalyst for our 1Malaysia dream?

Look at all that we could feel around us. From food, entertainment, fashion, infra structure, electronics, culture, commerce, politics, health, religion, academics as well as daily communication. English is the soul to all this.

Unfortunately, we are disregarding the very ‘soul’ !

If the English Language fails to be given its due recognition, we will be left behind by the race of time. Human achievements and high level of competition to stay relevant will eventually pushed Malaysia behind. We will be drifted away from the mainstream world.

At that moment, most of the voices who champion this issue of Bahasa will no longer around to witness the disaster that hits our future generation.

I am honoured to be among the last batch of the English medium students during my school days. With Lower School Certificate, ( L.C.E ) in 1977, Malaysia School Certificate ( M. C. E ) in 1979 and Higher School Certificate ( H. S. C ) in 1981. I grew up with absolute confidence – communicating and interacting in English.

Be it a sweeper, janitor, businessmen to corporate figures. Both Malaysian and foreigner. My ability to communicate in English helps me to get acknowledged, attention and respect.

But most of all, my passion towards Bahasa will never die. In fact, I truly believe that my mothers tongue is forever alive within myself with my heart beat faster.

Wake up my friends! Look at your surroundings. Though it is not the end of the world, but ‘The Survival Of The Fittest’ is here to stay. Just like the Stone Age, The Stronger One Wins. As for today, the competition is tougher. Among other thing, who command better English will excel ahead, much further ahead!

Would you mind to be left behind?


Post a Comment