KUCHING, Nov 3: Sarawak should continue to promote the use of English in all schools despite an UMNO minister’s call to stop the widespread advancement of English in Malaysia, says state PKR chairman Baru Bian.
Describing Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz’s statement as ‘divisive and shortsighted’, Baru charged that such a statement as another subtle attempt to politicise issues ahead of the elections and portray BN/UMNO as the champion of the Malays.
At the launch of National Language Month 2017 at Akademi Seni Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan (Aswara) on Oct 31, Nazri had said that English is a threat to ethnic culture and languages, quoting a Unesco report on language endangerment.
He also reportedly said that: “we have to protect the national language and stop the widespread advancement of English in Malaysia.”
Expressing shock and disappointment at Nazri’s statement, Baru said that Nazri singling out the use of English as the threat to ethnic culture and languages is misleading.
Baru explained that the UNESCO report also identifies other factors as well — external forces such as military, economic, religious, cultural or educational subjugation; internal forces such as a community’s negative attitude towards its own language; and increased migration and rapid urbanisation.
Baru supported Sarawak Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Michael Manyin’s active promotion of the use of English in schools, having encouraged all state representatives to adopt schools in their constituencies for English proficiency programmes and recently instructing that English be spoken during school assemblies.
The Ba Kelalan assemblyman also urged Manyin to press on with reforms in Sarawak to promote the use of the English language in local schools.
“His (Nazri’s) comments that demonise and blame the English language for the ‘deterioration of the national language’ are divisive and designed to alienate the Malay-speaking population from those that are fluent in English, and to conjure up yet another ‘threat’ to them,” Baru said in a statement today.
Due to the established importance of English, Baru said Nazri should have encouraged the pursuit of excellence in both languages instead of advocating fighting against the advancement of English in Malaysia.
Baru also questioned the dual policy of UMNO/ BN leaders who send their children to study overseas while asking the poorer segment of the population and rural folks not to progress, so that the affluent will forever perpetuate their dominance in politics. — Dayak Daily