PETALING JAYA: A former federal minister has revealed that he faced significant backlash from “language defenders” when proposing fully fledged English-medium schools in the country.
Abdul Rahman Dahlan told FMT that he was labelled “unpatriotic” for suggesting English-medium schools.
“When I was a minister, I proposed fully fledged English schools, but I faced backlash from language defenders.
“This is why we are lagging behind. Everything is politicised, and they even questioned my patriotism,” he said without revealing the identity of his detractors.
Last month, in a Facebook post, Rahman renewed calls for the government to re-establish English-medium schools which were present in Sabah before the switch to Bahasa Melayu in 1982.
He asserted that Sabahans face challenges competing with fellow Malaysians as well as globally due to their insufficient grasp of English.
Rahman highlighted a provision in the state’s constitution designating English as an alternative language for official communication, adding that English-medium schools should be an alternative for parents who want their children to attain English proficiency.
He said he intended to cultivate a society proficient in both Malay and English, offering added value for citizens in the competitive world, as the majority of information on the internet and the sharing of knowledge worldwide is predominantly in English.
“I’m not suggesting an English-medium school for every Malay school. I propose that for every 10 to 20 Malay schools, there should be one or two English-medium schools.
“Implement it first in Sabah and Sarawak, as there is no opposition to the idea in these regions,” he added.