Abang Johari: English important to avoid awkward ‘four push two’ moments

Abang Johari delivering his winding-up speech on the last day of the 15th PBB Convention.

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By Ling Hui, Nur Ashikin Louis and Chris Bishop

KUCHING, June 19: The story of a Bahasa Malaysia (BM) teacher trying to teach mathematics using English is a cautionary tale which all would do well to pay attention to, according to Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“Because the math teacher was on leave, the BM teacher went to teach on his or her behalf. The BM teacher then asked the class, ‘Four push (‘tolak’) two. What is the answer?’

“He had to use English. So, again he asked, ‘Four push two. What is the result?’,” said Abang Johari, and that drew waves of laughter from the audience.

“He didn’t know how to use the word ‘subtract’ or even ‘minus’, but ‘push’ because it directly translates from ‘tolak’,” he continued.

Abang Johari shared the story to emphasise the importance of the English language in education and acquisition of knowledge.

He told another story that involved tourism, a ministerial portfolio that he had held before he became the Chief Minister of Sarawak.

In this tale, the central character was a tour guide who was not so fluent in English.

“A foreigner was looking for the restroom. He asked the tour guide, ‘Can you show me your restroom?’ The tour guide then gestured to the sofa seats.

“The foreigner said, ‘No, no. I want a restroom.’ The tour guide replied, ‘Yeah, you can rest here.’ His English was so bad that the foreigner had to literally describe to him what he was looking for.

“Only then did the tour guide understand that the foreigner was referring to the toilet, also known as a restroom.”

Amidst roaring laughter, Abang Johari concluded: “That is why English is important. We must know both languages, BM and English.”

He was delivering his winding-up speech on the last day of the 15th Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Convention at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here today. — DayakDaily