The prioritisation of Bahasa Malaysia over English in education policies dating back three decades is “stupid” and the cause of graduate unemployment now, said Tan Sri Adenan Satem.
The Sarawak chief minister said the country should have placed equal emphasis on both languages.
“Back then, it was decided that correspondence with the government, if not in Bahasa Malaysia, would not be entertained. How could you have a policy like that?
“That is why so many graduates these days could not get a job because they cannot speak proper English,” he was quoted saying yesterday by local daily The Borneo Post.
Noting the sheer volume of books on science and mathematics published in English, Adenan also expressed his doubts on whether the country’s authority on Bahasa Malaysia — Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka — could cope with the volume of new material daily.
“Are we going to translate all of them? Why do we have to do it twice when you can do it once?” he asked.
Adenan highlighted that Singapore used English as its main language while giving equal attention to Mandarin and the Malay language there, before going on to say that Sarawak should push both English and Bahasa Malaysia.
He pointed out that English was a necessity in international trade, and that contracts were usually written in the language.
“Let’s be practical, and that’s why I say Sarawak must promote English together with Bahasa (Malaysia) at the same time.” he was also quoted saying.
This is not the first time that Adenan has called for English to be given more attention.
Last November 18, he announced that the state government was adopting English as Sarawak’s second official language and declaring that official correspondence could be in either English or BM.
On February 15, Adenan was reported saying that Malaysia should adopt English as the second language while keeping national language Bahasa Malaysia as the first language, arguing that the country risks being left behind and looking stupid if it doesn’t join the world in using the language.
On September 10, Adenan said the Sarawak state government will support the formation of English-medium mission and private schools that prioritise education in the world’s lingua franca.
The Malay Mail Online