KUCHING, Sept 6: The federal government should amend the relevant laws to allow English to be used as a medium of instruction in national schools, especially in Sarawak.
Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S) spokesperson Chin Fen Siong said the Malaysia needed such a reform to keep abreast with global development, where the English language is widely used in many sectors, especially in science and technology.
He argued that under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), English could actually be used as an official language alongside Bahasa Malaysia in Sarawak.
“Sarawak can use English as a medium of instruction under the MA63; therefore, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government should abandon educational laws and constitutions that are unreasonable and out-of-date,” Chin said in a statement.
He added that if PH refused to discard outdated legislations, they would be perceived as being no different to its predecessor, the Barisan Nasional. In addition, local graduates would find it difficult to be competitive globally and development in the country would stagnate.
“Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad constantly asks the people to learn advanced technologies from Asian countries such as Japan. But if we want to learn such technologies, we have to learn English because most of the information and learning materials are in English. We also need to use English in our documents if we are to penetrate the global market with our own technologies as it is the lingua franca of the world,” Chin pointed out.
Recently, the Education Ministry stated that it is against the use of English as the medium of instruction in national schools as it violates Article 152 (1) of the Federal Constitution and the National Language Act as well as contravenes the letter and spirit of the Education Act 1996.
In a written parliamentary reply to Batang Sadong MP Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, when asked on its stance on Sarawak schools using English as the medium of instruction, the ministry said Article 152 (1) of the Federal Constitution stipulates that Bahasa Malaysia is the national language.
Nancy responded by saying that the rights of Sarawak to use English as its official language alongside Bahasa Malaysia should not be questioned as the state government had never passed an ordinance or enactment in the state legislature to restrict and terminate the usage of the English language as its official languages.
This in respect of provisions in the Cobbold Commission Report, Inter Governmental Committee (IGC) Report and Article 161 (3) of the Federal Constitution. — DayakDaily