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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Opposing learning English and its use are born from sense of insecurity and narrow-mindedness

PETALING JAYA - Malaysian students who learn the subjects of mathematics and science in English rather than in Bahasa Melayu will not suddenly become more English in their mannerisms and preferences as some narrow-minded people fear, said Azhar Harun.

In a Facebook posting today, the lawyer cum social activist, who is also known as Art Harun, said, “Teaching Maths and Science to students will not ‘anglicise’ the subjects or the students.

“They will not start drinking tea in the afternoon with a dab of milk and eat scones with clotted cream just by attending Maths and Science classes in English.”

He argued that studying in English was not a form of disrespect to Bahasa Melayu either nor would it make the Malays forget that they were Muslims and Malaysians.

Art made these comments in light of the intense opposition to the implementation of the Dual Language Programme (DLP) by the Ministry of Education that will see parents and students deciding for themselves if they wanted subjects like mathematics and science taught in English.

He was also responding to the views of Prof Wan Ramli Wan Daud of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) engineering and built environment faculty, who said these subjects were best taught in the student’s mother tongue i.e. Bahasa Melayu as the DLP was only about making students more proficient in English.

However Art rebutted the professor’s argument, saying that English was the accepted universal language of business and was used extensively for research, to hold meetings, negotiations, forums, seminars and conferences, besides being used for international trade.

“It is the most used language in the world. It is as pure and simple as that.”

“You may have a PhD in Chemistry. But if the terminologies used by you in a conference is karbon monoksida rather than carbon monoxide, you can forget about effectively communicating your ideas or paper to anybody other than yourself and your fellow Malaysians.”

He also said the opposition to English as the medium of instruction in schools for certain subjects was born of a sense of “sheer insecurity” and narrow-mindedness.

“This insecurity stems from the fact that the Malay students are by far inferior to the non-Malay students when it comes to English proficiency.

“Consequently, it is feared that the Malay students will be overrun by the non-Malay students in examinations if the medium is English,” Art said, adding that when one was sick, it was necessary to “swallow the bitter pill” rather than be consumed by the sickness.

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