When will four MCA Ministers make the formal proposal in Cabinet to make English a compulsory pass subject for SPM?

I welcome the proposal by the MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek to make English a compulsory pass subject for SPM, although it was a decade after I had made such a proposal.

On 18th May 2002, in expressing the DAP’s full support for the then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s call to Malaysian students to master English as “necessary for communications essential to keep abreast of developments in the technical fields such as engineering and science”, I had gone one step further in proposing making pass in English compulsory in SPM, STPM and matriculation.

This is what I said some 10 years ago:

“The 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.

“There 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.

“It 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.

“The 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 reference works.

“Virtually 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.

“The 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.”

In my statement of May 2002, I had raised the most fundamental question about the PPSMI (teaching of mathematics and science in English) which was being introduced at the time, viz:

“Educationists 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.

“Musa (the then Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad) 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.

“I 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.

“The 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.”

The four MCA Ministers in Cabinet ten years ago never supported the proposal to make English a compulsory pass subject even just for SPM, and the standard of English in the schools and universities had further declined in the past decade with Malaysia losing out to other ASEAN countries like Singapore and the Philippines in terms of English proficiency.

When will the four MCA Ministers raise the proposal to make English a compulsory pass subject for SPM in Cabinet – or is this only a MCA proposal meant for media publicity and not to be pursued seriously in the Education Ministry or Cabinet?

  1. #1 by Dipoh Bous on Sunday, 6 November 2011 - 3:19 pm

    All the acronyms like UMNO,MCA,MIC,etc,etc…are in English.

    Untuk memartabatkan Bahasa Malaysia, semua di atas (dalam Bahasa Inggeris) patut dibuang dan digantikan dengan singkatan dalam BM…

    DBP cadang nak pastikan semua papan tanda, dll menggunakan BM, mengapa tidak mulakan dengan nama-nama parti politik di atas?

    As I see it, BN is actually doing all these huhas just to stay in power…

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Sunday, 6 November 2011 - 3:30 pm

    M’sia has been governed 4 too long by mindless, incompetent n corrupt UmnoB/BN
    Most countries don’t regard M’sia seriously
    M’sia was not invited 2 attend d 2011 G-20 Cannes Summit, but Sg was, go figure out Y

    • #3 by Bunch of Suckers on Sunday, 6 November 2011 - 7:52 pm

      Don’t forget, Indonesia was there, too!

      WTF our Bolehland? It must be Bodohland actually! All SEA nations and Asia nations are moving forward, our Bodohland is moving backward under those suckers as leaders leading our nation to no-where!!!!

      Suckers, shame on you! Crawl back to your Mama wormholes and hide inside there permanently….

  3. #4 by monsterball on Sunday, 6 November 2011 - 3:54 pm

    They are all racists.
    They will support their own race language…Malay Chinese or Tamil.
    English cannot be supported by them.
    Doing so…their race politics weakened.

  4. #5 by boh-liao on Sunday, 6 November 2011 - 8:23 pm

    Sg was INVITED 2 attend d 2011 G-20 Cannes Summit
    Indonesia, d only nation fr ASEAN, is a MEMBER of G-20, comprising 20 major economies
    Don’t play play with Indonesia
    M’sia can join C-20, comprising 20 major CORRUPT economies

  5. #6 by limkamput on Sunday, 6 November 2011 - 8:52 pm

    When? After the next general election and if there are still four MCA ministers.

  6. #7 by bruno on Sunday, 6 November 2011 - 9:23 pm

    Politicians who supported Science and Mathematics to be in Bahasa should not send their children to international schools and universities overseas,especially with money they stole from the people.Why sent their children to study in Western countries,when they themselves deprive other students the chance to master the English language.

    Their children should master the Malay language language only,same as other children.All on a level playing field.

  7. #8 by Godfather on Sunday, 6 November 2011 - 10:14 pm

    Not a chance. They would rather have another 200,000 unemployable university graduates.

  8. #9 by yhsiew on Sunday, 6 November 2011 - 10:29 pm

    The government is unlikely to make English a compulsory pass subject for SPM because the reason for scrapping the PPSMI is to help rural students, who are weak in English, to do well in Maths and Science subjects. Presumably these students find it easier to understand Maths and Science subjects taught in their mother-tongue. Making English a compulsory pass subject will lessen their chances of passing the SPM.

  9. #10 by cemerlang on Sunday, 6 November 2011 - 11:54 pm

    You can score A or 100 in your English subject but you would not speak in it, you would not write in it, you would not understand when English is spoken. What is the use of that A or that 100 ? English teachers ? Only good for showing to the politicians. But do politicians know just how louzy the situation is ? Do all politicians speak English ? Or may be because they do not know English, that is why they need to perkasakan Melayu. Actually what is the real reason ? Kids can master languages well. All you need to do is to let them mix. Mix with whoever there are and you will be surprised to hear them speaking other than your own Melayu language. This ego thing can be very problematic.

  10. #11 by tak tahan on Monday, 7 November 2011 - 12:21 am

    You’re damn right.Mix around and that’s the way to go for multi cultural society.How to learn other languages when one is restricted or confined to one’s social norm and culture.We must break away from Umno’s divide and rule policy for us to prosper and be proud as progressive Malaysian.In this competitive global world,there is no ketuanan thingy,thus we really need the majority of our Malay brothers and sisters to wise up,think and act for the future of our nation.What else could be better than our present pathetic situation?

  11. #12 by tak tahan on Monday, 7 November 2011 - 12:24 am

    sorry typo mistake..the last line should be things can’t get better if…

  12. #13 by waterfrontcoolie on Monday, 7 November 2011 - 8:12 am

    MCA has hit the Wall, UMNO is politicizing the issue so are some members of the opposition. We know that the use of language can influence others sa well as be influenced by others. The whole point drifts down to the rural population. How would they take it? In the short term, they will be disadvantaged but in the long term they will gain being able to read other news in the internet besides “Utusan and listen to Beritas”. This will definitely deprive them THE SOURCE of influence! this is the real bone of contention. It my hope that the middle-class especially the Real Malays give a thought to their community; knowing the Mamaks are mighty good in English hence HIS ability to rule 2 scores and two years!

  13. #14 by k1980 on Monday, 7 November 2011 - 9:42 am

    I wonder whether you all know about the existing situation of English language lessons in malaysian schools — the kids are expected to learn that foreign language WITHOUT being taught the rudiments of English grammar!

    The kids are expected to discover(!) for themselves the various aspects of tenses, agreement of verb with subject, conjunctions, prepositions, phrasal verbs ect without actual lessons being conducted on the above.

  14. #15 by chengho on Monday, 7 November 2011 - 11:46 am

    no more vernacular school…all English

  15. #16 by k1980 on Monday, 7 November 2011 - 12:14 pm

    Education director-general Datuk Seri Abd Ghafar Mahmud had reportedly said parents can transfer their children to the nearest school which offered the subjects in the medium of their choice.

    This is what will happen— schools offering PPSMI will become overpopulated, while non-PPSMI schools will have to be closed down


  16. #17 by Sallang on Monday, 7 November 2011 - 3:10 pm

    If the English exam papers are to be corrected in Malaysia, then again, it can be abused or even sabotaged. Lower the passing marks and so on.
    Let it be.
    As long as the schools can still teach English as a subject, it’s good. No need to be compulsory pass.

    I want to share an incident at the immigration counter upon arriving at Kuching airport recently.
    The counter gave me an ’embarkation’ receipt and told me to sign on it. Then she said, ‘Untuk departure’.
    I thought i heard her said, ‘Untuk di baca’.
    After signing the receipt, I stood there reading it.

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