Sunday, March 8, 2009

Haven't we done enough damage to our kids?

The protest by Malay groups protesting against the use of English to teach Maths and Science in schools has made Malaysia a top news item. Today, the protest was among the headlines of the BBC news. It was also a major news item in many international newspapers. As expected, the protest were led by several prominent nationalists but the participation of top PAS leaders such as its president Hadi Awang and other MPs have raised many eye-brows. Didn't the pro-Pakatan Rakyat supporters say they are now liberal and reasonable politicians?

The crowd was massive with estimates ranging from 8,000 in Malaysiakini to 2,000 in Malaysian Insider. It would appear that this protest has been organised ahead of the Umno general assembly, in a move to embarass the party. It was clear the organisers wanted to show they were real champions of the Malays. The groups have a right to protest but they should not be allowed to intimidate or exert undue pressure on the government. No decision has been made but the fact is that most students prefer to answer the questions in English. That is a fact.

The results have showed that the use of English has not affected their performances in these two subjects, again, that is a fact. English is a global language. It is also the language of the Internet. We do not need to go through the merits of using English. Enough has been said. The reality is that the standard of English among our children has dropped drastically. They cannot cope with the language in universities. Many fail to get past interviews because of their poor command of the language.

Well, what is the stand of the non-Malay MPs from PKR on this issue? So, do we give in to the Malay and Chinese extremists? At the end of the day, communalism is still the order of the day in Malaysian politics but the moderates must speak up. The advocates of English must also speak up. This is not about politics. This is about the future of our children, haven't we done enough damage to our kids in schools?


Jia Dad, Xin Mom said...

A bunch of idiots championing for their selfish interest. To me, these idiots bordering the monkeys.

Anonymous said...

"So, do we give in to the Malay and Chinese extremists?"

well, dear Datuk Seri, that's a million dollar question.

Perhaps political masters you have the pleasure of associating with can provide you the answer. you know, mother tongue, identity of the vernacular schools, Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa, future generation etc.

but perhaps the real question is, will they live long enough to defend their decision that would impact the next generation?

from a disappointed mandarin-speaking Malaysian Chinese who accepts PPSMI

Rockybru said...

2000 protesters or 8000 bro? I read in someone's blog that it was 20000.

Usually the mainstream media like The Star that get accused of not knowing being Maths!

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Your facts are bull#$%^. Is the minister of education prepared to reveal the truth of the maths and science results.
Rightly said that the standard of English has dropped for simple reason that math and science are wrong subjects if we want to be proficient in English.
Surely you know rather than trying to spin, it is not about the Malays, it is about teaching those 2 subjects using mother tongue.
Surely you know that if you want a good command in English, it is best to do it through English literature, debate, extensive reading on English books and spoken language.
Wong ah, don't play with fire trying to twist it around. Please be sincere to this country for the benefit of the nation and put politic aside.

Anonymous said...

Dear Datuk, u just said it, at the end of the day communalism is well and alive in Malaysia. Compromises and sacrifices must be undertaken to ensure Malaysias prosperity in the future. Our command of english is one way we attract foreign direct investment to Malaysia. Its what makes us stand out in Asia!

Anyway I dont understand the fuss about teaching maths and science in one's mother tongue which has been the argument of almost every race in Malaysia. At the end of the day all our brightest students end up studying in foreign universities where they will eventually learn maths and science in english.

There seems to be less opposition in sending them overseas to learn in english than to learn it at home although the otherwise would be the logical argument since a generation will be lost.

hypocrisy?ignorance?or just old politics?

Anonymous said...

What's your stand on the use of English foe science & maths in primary school?

Frankly, why not we push for English medium school? Better still, English as an official language.

I am not making cynical statement. I am for this English medium & English as one of the national language. What say you, Ah Wong!


Anonymous said...

I,m working oversea as a Seamen, I only have MCE qualification, now most of my new friend can't even speak and understand English, due to this situation, most of my Friend especialy from Sarawak unable to secure and compete with others, living us most backward compare to those from other countries especially Phillipine. actually they have a very good qualification with good command of written and spoken Bahasa Malaysia. Once they unable to secure a job within Malaysia, this make them encounter difficulties when dealing with foreign companies. i,m consider lucky with MCE, qualification, can still manage administrative Job.I'm concerning of my Kids future.

Anonymous said...

In order for our children to learn English in an effective way is to have proper English lesson, not through math and science.

My daughter is in the primary one of a chinese school, she has only 2 periods of English lesson a week (total ONE hour per week), this is insufficient.

In the primary school, students should be taught proper English, not neither-here-nor-there type of English, and then start learning math and science in English from secondary school onwards i.e. after the students can understand English.

Dato', can you imagine if you were learning math and science in Japanese in primary school(assume that you do not know Japanese language)? Can you learn math and science effectively?

BCTan266 said...

I totally agree that we have done enough damage to our kids. Our young really need to gain greater command of the English language. Otherwise, they will have fewer doors to knock on for jobs.

Before I share my two sen, Datuk, I want to understand your role as a media practitioner.

For one thing, I do not agree with you your pigeon-holing of Hadi. So too the gsuntlet you threw at the non-Malay MPs in PR. It shows your impartiality, Datuk. Donno about lack of fortitude towards fairness though.

In the first place, does being liberal-minded mean denying one of taking a stand on an issue about which one feels strongly? To me, it's better Hadi than the rest of the Cabinet who are just waiting for permission to think!

In this same vein, you too are not being open-minded as one would expect of an EiC of a major daily. If you so readily compromise the essence of reporting the truth for political expediency and allegiance, how dare you deny the same to others for having the fortitude to take a stand on an issue? It is Hadi's job to voice the feelings of his constituents. We cannot say the same of our journalists who as the fourth estate have an even bigger responsibility to your constituents. You guys ought to champion the right of the public to know the truth and be educated of it even more than Hadi.

We know how badly people in the Malay belt need to brush up on their English. To them we have not got our act right. I taught English in an area cloistered in the heart of Pahang more than three decades ago. Lacking wealth and infrastructure, their exposure to English and Western culture was almost none. The NEP was going through its early years and Bahasa Melayu was accorded supreme status. Anything Western was viewed with deep suspicion, but the children were eager to learn. As expected certain champions (half baked or fully cooked..some of them were teachers) viewed exposure to Western culture a threat to the social fabric of the community..."yellow culture" was term made famous during that time. And I was one of a few thorns in the flesh of these 'champions' for being a teacher of English. So you see, the psyche of our society vis-a-vis, the willingness to embrace truth and realities of the world stage, has not moved much despite all the advantages we have at our disposal. If the mid 1970s were used as a point of reference on this matter, where are we now?

Now, Datuk, you must appreciate how I feel about the important role that you and your your colleagues of the media have failed to fulfil.

And whoever that endorsed the notion of bringing up the standard of English through teaching Maths and Science in English had been dead wrong. (He is still alive and has been gleefully pointing accusing fingers at the wrongs that that he himself had created.)

Defending the folly of an egomaniac is criminal. If the aim is to prepare our young for the global market, this is definitely not the way to go about it! It was a pedagogical blunder right from the start. For goodness sake, admit it!

That TDM's arm was strong and unyielding is undeniale. And having guts of Jello and liver of lily is no excuse either. I mean you, the Cabinet coleagues of TDM and those unwilling to uninstall the wrong software in the system. Do we still want to defend an indefensible wrong?

Honourable members of the Malaysian Cabinet & the Media,it is time to bury this vestige of TDM's arrogance. Take a fresh look at our education system, please. This time, do it honestly. Get professional help and take their counsel, Tun, Tan Sri Datuk Seri, Datuk, and what have you! Be the Honourable Ones worthy of the accolades you think you deserve.

Anonymous said...

i actually agree that usage of english in science and mathematics. however, not many can teach and many teachers cannot even speak a proper english. i remember those days when most of my malay teachers are speaking broken english. hishammudin should wake up and be serious about this issue and stop smilling and be serious when media ask you about this issue! it will not affect you but will affect millions not only students but also their parents! stop being a selfish dumb ass!

Anonymous said...

Dear Dato Wong,
I must say, Demo is not one of the solution to problem but it is indeed a way to highlight the grievances of our people. Do you Not agree with me the Indian society now slowly improving, and there are policies introducing to assist them now? it will not happen without the help of HINDRAF Demo.

I also notice our beloved Hissamudin ask, why Demo now, and not 6 years ago. what I want to say here is, Indian has been suffering, why not 50 years ago, why not 10 years ago, and why now? Sometimes, the minitry does not know what they have done wrong and become sluggish, this is how we tell our dislike to them!

Some claims it is political motivated, then let's not forget what UMNO youth has done lately, holding major gathering in Perak, and other places to vow to protect their 'Ketuanan'; I can say it is even MORE politically motivated and associated than this one, and it seems to encourage racial hatred than racial harmony! Yet UMNO loves it, yet MCA and Gerakan shut their mouth.

I leave it to you to judge....

Anonymous said...

Do you have any children currently attending primary school? Do you know the type of English being taught to our primary school pupils in their English periods?
Why don't the Government start there if it is really serious in improving the standard of English of our children?
Demanding mother tongue to be used in primary school science & maths AND the standard of English in English period to be improved at the same time do not deserve to be labelled as "extremist"!
PLEASE check your facts. you are a journalist!

Stephen Doss said...

An interesting insight from a student who has no choice but to use Science and Maths and has to understand it in English because it just sounds so funny/idiotic in any other language...

Source :

Recently there is a lot of support calling for the reversal of teaching math and science in English.

Much of these support comes of intellectual who has never studied any form of science or math in their respective college or University.

Take for example the recent PPSMI forum which was supposed to be attended by Anwar Ibrahim but was replaced by Syed Husin ALi.

Syed Husin Ali is a Professor of Anthropology and Sociology from University Malaya. What science or mathematics is there? In fact I had to look at the dictionary to understand the meaning of Anthropology.

The anthropologist Eric Wolf once described anthropology as "the most scientific of the humanities and the most humanistic of the sciences."

Zaidel describes Anthropology as a major you take in Uni if you can't do Math well but want to seem smart by having fancy words on your degree.

And Anwar Ibrahim? Degree in Malay Studies, Oiyoooo the only Math they have in Malay Studies is to calculate the amount of credit you take per semester which isn't much of a problem for Anwar because during his Uni days he spent most of them shouting slogans on the street and getting angry for no apparent reason.

Why I say getting angry for no apparent reason? Because later he Joined UMNO!!

Back to thw reason why I support the damn thing.
I came from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and trust me when I say this that a few years back this was the most Bahasa Kebangsaan University than any other local universities combined. Let's just say the first 3 years of my Engineering days were filled with Bahasa Malaysia/Melayu jargons. Just to show you what I mean take a look at some of these examples..

Engineering Term
Capacitor - Pemuat
Resistor - Perintang
Impedance - Galangan
Current - Arus

Others include : Momen Lentur, Tegasan, Terikan, Pepejal, Dinamik Haba and etc...

I mean those Engineering Lecturer took the extra mile to translate every single damn thing into Malay and I greatly respect this. As oppose to my sociology lecturers who like to screw up the Malay Language by prostituting English words into BM.

Take for example this term "Dekadensi Moral" When I first saw that term I was thinking what the hell is dekadensi moral, a type of resistor or something? Turns out Dekadensi comes from the English word Decadence. Dekadensi Moral means Moral Decadence direct translation where as you can simply translate it into "Kemerosotan Akhlak/Moral" which is much more clear. But NOOOO he had to use dekadensi so that he would seem smart and people won't question his Associate Professorship. Then you would have other words like kompak, visi, misi, infotainment, naratif kecil, naratif besar and penkek.

At first the Lecturers (Engineering) seemed to get it all good, they managed to translate the English term to BM very well and with very clear meaning. Then Things started to change as the subject get's more complex and you get newer terms. Take for example this Subject..

"Motorolla 68000 Microprocessor"

Which translates to Mikro Pemproses Motorolla 68000"
Sounds fine....

But then as you go deeper into the subject you will find more interesting terms. For instance

Timer - The clock cycle chip you use to send timing signals to the processors. It acts like a stopwatch to the processor.

BM Translation - Pemasa. Which is fine.

Then we have things like this -
Bistable Multivibrator - Dwimantap Penggetar Pelbagai. Apo Kobondo tu Jang?

Then in microprocessor you have this term call "Interrupt" and like it's name it means to interrupt the normal cycle of the processor and tell it to focus to doing something else. Kinda like the phone rings when you are cooking, you stop cooking and answer the phone.

The Malay Jargon Interrupt would be Sampukan. Interrupt Pin - Pin Sampukan.

Sampukan? Sampuk ke? Sejak bila Mikropemproses ada pocong atau Jembalang dalam dia? Ini Electrical Engineering ka Bomoh Engineering?

Masked Interrupt - Sampukan Bertopeng.
Handshake Interrupt - Sampukan Jabat Tangan. Ko salam dengan dia lepas tu ko kena sampuk, kira dia ni macam santau laa.

Then you have this thing called "Latch" which is an output chip.
Latch in Malay is Selak.
Selak as in Selak pintu, Selak Pagar or Selak pintu Jamban.

Mula-mula baca dulu saya ingat Selak dalam erti kata Selak Kain.
Contoh - Angin bertiup kencang lalu baju kurung Fasha Sanda pun selak sikit lalu Zaidel pun telah menerima ganguan emosi akibat dari kejadian itu.

Naah see,
And it gets interesting when it comes to "Electrical Power" Subject. In there there is this chapter where they talk about CoEnergy in power transmission. Coenergy in malay is translated to Kotenaga.

Which is why when he gave the lecture my lecturer would loudly proclaim KOtenaga compare to the students who prefer to pronounce it as KOTEnaga.

3 phase Coenergy in power transmission would then become
KoteNaga 3 fasa dalam penghantaran kuasa. OIYOOOOOO, kalah Anakonda!

Just for fun here are some other Technical Jargons you can play with...

Transformer - Pengubah
Decoder - Penyahkod (Mak Nyah kot)
Multiplexer - Pemultiplex
Polarity - Kutub
Instruction Set - Set Suruhan
Components - Peranti (I bet you didn't know that)
Universal Asynchronous Receiver Transmitter (UART) - Penghantar Penerima Pemasa Serentak Am

Now try translating this
Connect Your Joy Stick into the server Port, you should find little problem with the Joystick as the server has Plug and Play mode.

Masukkan Kayu Ria anda ke dalam lubang pelayan, anda sepatutnya tidak mempunyai banyak masaalah dalam memasukkan kayu ria anda kerana pelayan ini mempunyai fungsi masuk dan main.

Hambik kau!
Tu belum dia kena sampuk ke selak ke nak nak pulak ada kotenaga.

By the time I was in my 4th year,
Everything was taught in English.... SENANG!

Anonymous said...

who cares, wcw?

one just sells the soul and out goes the perdana and a camry comes in replacement. oh no, its more than a camry. Its a MERC.
dont believe, ask HEE.

so who cares its english or bahasa. its what ones gain after selling the soul. Damn those hypocrites.

Jasonred79 said...

The sad fact is that this is one of the many reasons that many many people who are capable of it are leaving Malaysia.

Those who stay will be those who cannot cope or do not wish to globalise.

Eventually Malaysia is just going to turn into a backward country which refuses to modernise. The signs are already there.

Our local universities have outright dropped off the international rankings. And they're worsening year by year.

Anonymous said...

Keep on bashing the opposition. You might get a tan sri next round. Dare you to publish this!!!

Odette said...

Math and Science should be taught in English if we want to remain progressive. It is terrible having to interview job candidates who can't even hold a proper conversation in English. Disappointed with PR for organising rally for this sort of issue. Please do not politicise Education - it is too important a topic to take trivially.

syed syahrul zarizi b syed abdullah said...

"Pada pendapat aku, suka tidak suka bahasa inggeris masih lagi bahasa ilmu, terutamanya dalam bidang teknologi dan sains. Tidak ada bezanya, sekiranya kita mahu mendalami Agama Islam, kita mesti faham bahasa Arab terlebih dahulu, kerana ia bahasa Al-Quran. Boleh ke kita jadi mufti kalau belajar agama dalam bahasa Melayu & dari guru Melayu semata-mata?

Dan kalau kita nak anak kita jadi alim ulamak, tentu kita nak mereka belajar bahasa Arab dari mereke kecil. Setuju?"

Anonymous said...

I still remember the day that I interviewed a candidate for a job during a walk-in interview our company (a famous US IT company) was holding. This graduate from UUM could not speak a single sentence of English! How could he evn have any sliver of chance to get into an MNC, for that matter any IT company, where everything is in English! I felt sorry for that guy, but the interview was over in one minute, and I had to show him out. My problem was not over. Al the people I hired were not really that good in English, and I had to correct their English when it came to any correspondence going out to customers. I had no choice. If I had waited until I could get any candidates with a decent standard of English, I wouldn't have been able to hire anybody. This is the reality of the situation in Malaysia! And the damn politicians are all still dancing around championing the use of Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and Tamil in the schools while our school leavers are being handicapped with a deficiency in English. When there is any regional meeting in MNC companies, our young employees' low standard of English is an embarassment to Malaysia. Wake up Malaysians!
From an ex-employee of an MNC

Anonymous said...

Who care? Let all die together.
Then there is nothing to fight over.
We go back to the jungle.

ChengHo said...

If you read their MEMO to the Palace they ought to be sent for weekend boot learning Bahasa Melayu all over again , very poor written
These Nationalist is a Malay bigot who has selfish and narrow interest yet quitely despatch their children and grand children abroad for education , they want the rest of the Malay and Malaysian stay static and they keep on the progress
What a pathetic Nationalist and PR /PAS leadership

Anonymous said...

I have met a student doctor in University Malaya who could not understand the word paternal and maternal, words so basic to the study of genetics. I wonder if he would ever be able to read an international research journal in English langauge, much less understand it,in order to keep up with the scientific development around the world.I am not sure if there are noteworthy scientific journals in malay language. I think that the history of the language is not long as I remember lecturers scrambling to translate their lectures into malay, resulting in many an english sounding words as there was no such word in the original language. Even if Russian is the best language to study science in due to the wealth of research available I would make my children study that language too.

Anonymous said...

I am all for learning english. Wong, can you explain to me how one's english can improve by learning maths and science in english. The Government should concentrate on improving teaching english language in the schools. Increase the teaching period of english language. Have extra classes on saturdays. Bring in the best english teachers and give them the best training. Let this people teach our kids good english. The problem is our leaders be it PM, DPM or Edu. Minister are not sincere. Or else they would not send their loved ones to International Schools or foreign universities for them to get the best english education. Lot of moneys are being wasted all over by the Govt. Use all this money on teaching good english in school. Invest in teaching english per se. Or else we will not be able to compete globally and remain what we are for next 50 years. The questions is whether the Govt and its leaders are SINCERE, HONEST AND HAVE MORALITY?

Anonymous said...

Since my children are English-conversant, I definitely prefer the status quo to remain. However, I believe this policy increases the rich/poor and urban/rural divide.

To reduce the problem, (1) make English compulsory and triple the time allocated for it and Switch Science/Maths back to mother tongue (2) but simultaneously switch 10% national primary schools to English-medium. Increase no. of English-medium schools progressively based on demand and availability of English-conversant teachers. I believe this will see many (esp Chinese) switching to English.

Anonymous said...

Dato', if there's a problem in English proficiency, by all means...buck up the English lesson. Don't meddle the science and math. This is like fixing your car while in fact, your TV is broken.

Soon, the national language will be like latin and ancient greek..languages that no longer 'exist'! English is responsible for the disappearance of all these languages, i indigeneous language disappears every weeks because of english. it's like McDonalds and Starbucks are the lifestyle of the world, soon there'll be no mamak, nasi lemak and roti canai.

I'm all for proficiency of English, but we have to get the right priority and focus. Fix English not Math & Science. Today, BM...what's next? Mandarin and tamil?


Anonymous said...


I live in London and if anyone says to me “everyone speaks English” my answer is “Listen and look around you”. If people in London do not speak English then the whole question of a global language is completely open.

The promulgation of English as the world’s “lingua franca” is impractical and linguistically undemocratic. I say this as a native English speaker!

Impractical because communication should be for all and not only for an educational or political elite. That is how English is used internationally at the moment.

Undemocratic because minority languages are under attack worldwide due to the encroachment of majority ethnic languages. Even Mandarin Chinese is attempting to dominate as well. The long-term solution must be found and a non-national language, which places all ethnic languages on an equal footing is essential.

Anonymous said...

Malaysian chinese speaks cantonese mandarin generally and they speak bahasa malaysia and english and some take courses to speak japanese or any other languages.

The malays are free to learn other languages as they wish and also master their own.

So what is the big deal ? Some indians speaks hokkien when some chinese couldnt even utter a word of chinese.

If you are good you are good if you are lousy work on your lousiness