Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad speaking at the Sultan Abdul Hamid Old Collegians Association (Sahoca) alumni dinner ceremony reminded his people to utilize the English language. He said that English is a language used by many countries making it a useful language for everyone. Furthermore, basic foundational subjects such as science and mathematics are also taught in English, giving someone who has mastered the language an edge over others who don’t.
Dr. M’s speech also makes sure to reiterate the fact that speaking English does not mean one loses his native roots. A Malaysian will not become less Malay if he speaks English. It is only used to further enhance knowledge. He also said that there will be changes happening in the nation’s curriculum plans for schools making sure that it retains religious subjects while becoming more dynamic. It will be the goal of schools to mould well-rounded individuals, both religious and globally competitive.
In Dr. M’s words, “This means we should provide good education for them and they will graduate with a lot of knowledge in hand after they finish school, rather than become an individual full of drama.”
Malaysia as an English-speaking nation
According to the Education First (EF) English Proficiency Index of 2017, Malaysia is ranked 13th in the English language proficiency among nations of the world who are non-native speakers. This makes Malaysia second to Singapore who is ranked 5th out of 80 countries and falls under the “very high” category.
Malaysia, being a multicultural society, has made most Malaysians bilingual with a majority able to speak two of the following languages: Bahasa Malaysia (BM), English or Chinese dialect/Tamil. English has become a major language in the country because Malaysia used to be under the dominance of the British empire.
Today, many Malaysians still consider mastering English to be an advantage; thus, making Dr. M’s speech very timely and relative.