It pays to be multilingual, says community leader

Datuk Richard Wee

KUCHING: Oct 2: It is crucial for all individuals to master their respective mother tongues as they formed part of their identities, opined the Committee Management of Kuching Chung Hua Middle School No. 1, 3 and 4 chairman Dato Richard Wee.

“It is crucial for everyone to speak their own mother tongue as it is part of his or her identity. But at the same time, to be practical, it is crucial to know and be able to speak Malay and English, especially in the context of Sarawak and in Malaysia,” Wee told DayakDaily here today.

He was commenting on Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik’s advice to Chinese pupils today to watch Malay films, including those by the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee, to improve their command of Bahasa Malaysia.

“To me, I find his (Maszlee’s) advice to be creative, but I also believe such a creative learning approach also applies to all languages as well, be it Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin and others, including the dialects that we have in Sarawak,” Wee said.

However, Wee asserted that to be successful in the global arena, one has to master English, Mandarin and other major international languages.

“As we know, at one time, even Singapore was emphasising on English, but now they are emphasising on Mandarin, following the emergence of China as a global economic power.

“But for Malaysians, because we have a much more diverse ethnic background, we must be practical. In short, it is crucial for us to preserve our respective mother tongues and to learn as many languages as possible to assist us in whatever we want to do in life,” he said. — DayakDaily