I do not know whether to laugh or to cry – the standard of English in Malaysia has really fallen to disgraceful and abysmal low after four decades of Umno/BN rule.

I really do not know whether to laugh or to cry – the standard of English in Malaysia has really fallen to a disgraceful and abysmal low after four decades of Umno/BN rule.

Last week, Malaysia suffered national and international humiliation when the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study ( TIMSS) 2011 reports were released, as the nation’s ranking in eighth-grade Maths fell from 20th in 2007 to 26th in 2011 while its ranking in Science fell by an even greater margin, from 21st in 2007 to 32nd in 2011. Our average Maths score fell from 474 in 2007 to 440 and our average Science score fell by an even greater degree from 471 in 2007 to 426 in 2011, both far below the international average for both subjects in TIMSS 2011.

What is even worse, Malaysia also suffered the shame of being only one out of 6 countries out of 42 countries participating in the Maths study and 45 countries participating in the Science study to see falls in both our Maths and Science scores and ranking! Most of the other countries either improved their scores and rankings or stayed at their previous levels.

But the poor attainments of our students in maths and science when compared to international student achievements is not the only bane of the Malaysian education system.

Another equally critical area where the Malaysian education system has failed miserably is the English subject, which was poignantly illustrated in the past 24 hours, placing me in the position of not knowing whether to laugh or to cry.

Yesterday, I issued a media statement where I said:

“I wish to apologise to the Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the UMNO/BN leaders that I was elected into the DAP Central Executive Committee (CEC) at the 16th DAP National Congress – and with the highest votes.”

I am really flabbergasted that there are Umno/BN leaders and supporters who took it literally to mean that I had realised the error of my “misconduct” and that I was belatedly admitting that Najib had been right.

It would be unthinkable that such a ludicrous situation in comprehension of the English language could happen in Malaysia 40 years ago!

Recently, we have a Mentri Besar whose comprehension of English is so dismal that he could “invent”” figurative language in English only known to himself – when he talked about “cutting his ears” and “jumping into the river” in Pahang if MCA should lose to DAP in Bentong in the 13 general elections.

Everybody who searched the internet could only find figures of speech like “cutting the nose to spite the face” and “jump into the lake” but no “cutting my ears” or “jumping into the river”!

Of course, Malaysians will not forget about another Mentri Besar who claimed ignorance of English as to justify carrying RM1 million cash to Australia!

Malaysia is a land of multiple crises in good governance and nation-building, including multiple crisis in education.

Let us be serious about education, good governance and nation-building and stop making ourselves an international joke.

  1. #1 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 - 3:03 pm

    I am putting it down in writing. It took BN 30-35 years to destroy the Education System completely.

    Now the prophecy – and you don’t need a crystal ball for that – it will take a new government with willpower 30 – 35 years to put the education system back again.

    This time it is not some storied Humpty-Dumpty. In those 30 – 35 years, what is not told are the millions – and I say, literally, millions of lives, who never reached their potential because the education system by the BN government FAILED them.

  2. #2 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 - 3:06 pm

    Cry, My Beloved Country.

  3. #3 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 - 3:07 pm

    Then RISE and boot out Barisan Nincompoop.

  4. #4 by good coolie on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 - 3:22 pm

    Give teachers an allowance of RM500 a month to teach English. Then, you can expect that the teaching of English will be given to the teacher who is worst in English. Give teachers a two-year training stint in some Western country. Then, you can expect that the “holiday” is going to be enjoyed by teachers who know nothing about English, and who, when they come back to Malaysia, cannot teach English at all! What ails the system is incompetent and unimaginative teachers.

  5. #5 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 - 4:05 pm

    The fact of the matter is that many UMNO leaders don’t feel they have to get such things right, they feel ENTITLED not to get these things right. In fact, their forebears and themselves fought ruthlessly NOT to have to get these things right – and they won for decades..

    But history tells us that such neglect of standards always end in disaster for their leaders. It happens in every empire, every ruling regime, and it will happen to UMNO/BN..In fact there is some realisation at the minority very top BUT they are unable to overcome the momentum that is the neglect for decades. Making excuses gets to be very very addictive as any kind of addict of drugs, alcohol etc will tell you..

    UMNO’s addiction to excuses just can’t be rid off even forced cold turkey much less self done

  6. #6 by sotong on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 - 4:05 pm


    No, objective achieved by keeping them less informed and knowledgeable to stay in power for so long.

  7. #7 by Bunch of Suckers on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 - 4:11 pm

    UMNO B and BN suckers are all proud of their achievements! All projects were suck!! UMNOputras are also proud of their Sitting-Under-Rambutan-Trees-And-Waiting…

    North Korea, which is a small, is a nation with low GDP!!! A nation is living in subsistence level! The nation is facing all sorts of famines and disasters! The nation is surviving under the UN & USA sanctions over sanctions over decades! Yet they could recently launch its satellite successfully after 2 attempts without any other nations’ assistance!!!

    Likewise, S Korea was nation far behind developed when comparing to our Bolehland 3 decades ago. Now, S Korea GDP is much higher than ours! Their national developments and achievements are far advanced and fruitful! They are attempting to launch their satellite even with 2 previous failures!

    WHY? HOW? WHAT our UMNO & BN suckers do/ did to our nation???? SUCK!!!!!!!

  8. #8 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 - 4:29 pm

    I believe many Universities even in the West have succumbed to the NEP; they just wanted to collect the full fees imposed on foreign students by simply passing them. Many years back, when my daughter was in a Klang school, she had an English teacher with a MA in English from a US university. Based on her comment, it was obvious that she didn’t learn of complex, compound or simple sentences. I even had to remark about her marking with Green ink, to tell her that she didn’t understand basic English! with my phone number included, should she decided to vent her anger on my daughter! In such scenario, the TIMMS results should not be a surprised! Indeed when my daughter and three of her friends were sent to the school; at the first assembly the Headmistress announced that notwithstanding the fact that the 4 of them scored 7 A’es in the Primary examination; since they were from the Chinese-type national school, they would not be put in the ‘A’ class ever! Indeed she thought the 4 of them would be cowed by that speech! They were not: today 2 of them were appointed VP of a local bank and the other in an oversea bank before their 30th birthday! So much for her racist attitude and practices. It is a fact that you can’t enclose a brain that can see better, farther and indeed wider into the horizon. Yes, we thought since Finland is the top of the OECD countries, let us imitate them though the little Dot and other Asian countries at the Top five could easily be our model or for that matter our local brains without any racial divide could have delivered as well. If we continue to recruit graduates who can’t find job as teachers, all the magic wands will not solve our problems!

  9. #9 by monsterball on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 - 7:38 pm

    In Malaysia school teachers speaks lousy English.
    What do you expect from the students?
    Private tutors for every subject are in great demand.
    We can see bill boards advertisements…road signs…and majority young policemen…all Malays cannot speak good English.
    Malaysians speaks Mangalish.

  10. #10 by tuahpekkong on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 - 8:20 pm

    When you totally abandoned English as the medium of instruction in all our schools 30 years ago and trained mediocre students to become teachers, that is the consequence you are going to get, nothing really surprising. The most ridiculous thing is, we still indulge in self-gratification. Our exam regimes must have produced the highest percentage of straight A students in the world, but sadly, how many of these students are really up to the mark? At long last, our Education Minister had announced recently that only those with a minimum of 6As in the SPM exam would be recruited and trained as teachers, a small step in the right direction.

  11. #11 by john on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 - 11:11 pm

    No, the sad state of affairs goes deeper than – well, we have been saying it over and over, just saying our standard in English is going down, down,….down for quite long time now. The crux of the (now a) syndrome is clearly the person on top is NOT QUALIFIED in the first place. ( here, qualified in it’s pure essence and not what UMNO/bn ministers, ‘PM’ ‘play around with).
    Foremost, they are not working for the good of the rakyat ( they send their children elsewhere/overseas) and only when GE is round the corner they start churning out ‘goodies, candies’ shots. Worst, just play around with it without any concrete plans ( if there is, eg.engaging expert studys but cos’ GE coming, stoppgape-to fool mainly, not sincere or want to remedy in the first place). And, (hidden agenda) to ensure the children in rural areas continue to be their ‘fix deposit’ comes next,next,.. GE.
    Hence, the real issue is they just ‘playing around’ as we have been on this (and, same other issues) over, over,….again !
    Well, as the saying goes ‘if not broken why fix it’ (they have all the monies and resources at their full disposal) meanwhile. ONLY WAY IS TO VACATE THEM AT PUTRAJAYA ! PERIOD.

  12. #12 by Noble House on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 - 2:49 am

    The education system we have today is a typical bureaucratic system that’s prone to hyperbole where everybody’s role is spelled out in advance.There are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It’s not a surprise then when a school system doesn’t improve. And I think it’s very sad – very sad to see this happening to our younger generation.

  13. #13 by Sallang on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 - 8:58 am

    That chief minister is correct to say, ‘cut my ears’, because he is translating directly from Malay language.
    In the Malay language,’potong telinga’ is a figurative language used as a challenge.
    Anyway, its easier to cut the ear, than the nose.
    In education as well, they choose the easier way to achieve their objectives.
    Cannot achieve straight ‘A’s, lower the passing marks.
    Minimum 6 ‘A’s in order to be accepted, but No place.
    Cannot achieve the quota, reject even if qualified.
    English is so complex, can= boleh, can = tin.
    Cempedak=jackfruit, nangka=jacktruit.
    Present tense, past tense, future tense?
    Malay language, No such nonsense!

  14. #14 by SENGLANG on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 - 9:18 am

    Only those Elite speak has excellent command of English and all these people received their education overseas. These people know the importance of English in all aspect more so in the economy fronts. Mahathir himself has good command of English. It was during his time that the education system change by putting Bahasa Malaysia first and ignore the important of English. But those Elites have not be affected as those people have the money to go overseas. These people will later come back and take the most important post in the BN government or sitting on the GLC companies. All the PM and many many Ministers children are educated overseas. We know the current PM children are all overseas. The main reason that BN government not keen in improving English standard is that this will enable the Elite to have an advantage over the local educated in term of command of English and they know the importance of English.

  15. #15 by cintanegara on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 - 11:43 am

    As usual DAP tries to divert the attention…..DAP practices race-based politics in CEC election….

    DAP = Race first Malaysian second…

    Cakap tak serupa bikin…what a shame…

  16. #16 by Sallang on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 - 1:15 pm

    cintanegara, which party in BN is not race-based?
    UMNO for Malay, MCA for Chinese, and MIC for Indians.

  17. #17 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 - 2:30 pm

    Some1 moooed, LKS can choose 2 larf or cry, no problemo
    Y is LKS so no confident on our education system 1?
    Look, 30,474 or 6.92% of d 481,424 PMR candidates scored A in all subjects
    Isn’t dis fantastic meh?!
    Don’t bother about TIMSS 2011, just a silly Jewish plot 2 discredit M’sia’s great education system under UmnoB/BN, moooooooooooo

  18. #18 by cintanegara on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 - 2:57 pm

    Sallang, as you read it out loud, at least UMNO, MCA, MIC were being relatively honest…they mentioned these ideologies in the party mission/vision… DAP brands itself as multiracial……but the reality????

  19. #19 by tuahpekkong on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 - 4:10 pm

    I dare to say that over 50% of our teachers in Government secondary schools are not up to the mark, with only a very small percentage of them attaining the caliber of our teachers back in the 1970s. Worse, many are not dedicated at all. Little wonder that our education standard has fallen to the abyss. It is for this reason that many parents are voting with their feet by sending their children to private schools, like independent Chinese high schools.

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