Mastering the English language does not make an individual less patriotic or less nationalistic, says PBB's deputy publicity chief Peter Minos.
State Barisan Nasional’s main party , Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) supreme council member and publicity chief Peter Minos said English medium schools is a “must” if the country aspired to be competitive and recognised internationally.
“English cannot be taught half-heartedly or haphazardly. English medium schools is a ‘must’ to really learn the language. Those of us in schools in the 1950s and 1960s should know.
“Of course, we need Bahasa Malaysia as a language of national unity but we need English for modern progress,” he said.
He dismissed the notion that mastering English meant being less patriotic and nationalistic.
Citing former prime ministers Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he said both leaders had mastery over the English language and were patriotic.
“Both Tunku and Tun Dr Mahathir were good with English coming from English medium schools.
“Who can say they lacked patriotism? Patriotism arises from our pride of the greatness and achievements made by Malaysians. That includes what we achieved from English,” he opined.
Minos pointed out that the world over people were scrambling to master the English language citing China and Japan, adding that India had “control” over the IT industry because of its good command of English.
He said even in Malaysia, foreign companies and multinations preferred to hire staff who had a good command of the English language.
“No matter how educated we are, if we do not master English, that education is incomplete because the communication part is missing.
“Look at the Indonesians. Some of their ministers speak English fluently.
“Compare that to our top leaders, some of them when they speak publicly in English (they) do not inspire because their English is not up to standard.
“So, my opinion is a big ‘Yes’ to English medium schools,” said Minos who was responding to a call by a columnist in a local paper here for the return of English medium schools. The viewpoint had garnered much support among readers.
Minos’s comments follows a suggestion by new deputy Education Minister Mary Yap earlier this month for the prioritizing and inclusion of grammar in the school teaching methods for the English language.
Yap, who is a Sabahan and former school principal, said it was the best way to improve the standard of English in schools.
“Teaching grammar in schools will enhance the existing English Language syllabus that covered listening, reading, speaking and writing skills.
“It is very important that activities based-learning are relevant to what has been taught.
“In this way, you will see grammatical aspects of English being applied,” she said.