PETALING JAYA: Perak ruler Sultan Nazrin Shah says the Malays do place a high value on the English language and are willing and capable of mastering it.
Paying tribute to Arshad Ayub, the first director of the Mara Institute of Technology (ITM), he said Arshad had bravely endeavoured for English to be the medium of instruction at the 100% Bumiputera institution.
Describing Arshad, who was ITM director for 10 years before it became Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in 1999, as a “lone ranger”, Nazrin said he went against the status quo yet was not criticised or labelled as a traitor to the Malay race.
“Instead, to this day, he is considered a hero, a leader and an education nationalist,” he said when launching Arshad’s book “Menanam Pokok Tempat Berteduh” at Universiti Malaya this morning.
“His stubbornness produced a Malay community who obtained professional skills while mastering communication skills that enabled Malays to join all kinds of fields in the private sector with the non-Bumiputera community.”
Nazrin said this showed the Malay community would not oppose Malay students being taught English as long as the methodology was correct and effective in helping them master the language.
“In executing a programme, there needs to be a communication plan that’s effective, clear and enlightening for the targeted group and the public on the vision, goal, benefit, methodology and need for such a programme,” he said.
The sultan also stressed that Bahasa Melayu was continually upheld at ITM despite the usage of English as the teaching medium, saying there was no compromise in the usage of the language for official matters and ceremonies.
He highlighted that the non-Malay community was committed to educating young Malays when given the responsibility at ITM, which he said birthed many professional and middle-class Malays.
This proved that cooperation between the races can be easily inculcated if race-based and religion-based political rhetoric is minimised, and politics that sensationalise race and religion are stopped, he said.