By YS Chan
Tunku Kurshiah College (TKC) was initially located at Jalan Damansara, Kuala Lumpur from 1947 until it was relocated to Bukit Merbah, Jalan Tunku Kurshiah, Seremban in 1962.
It was officially opened the following year by the Yang Di Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan and named after the first Raja Permaisuri Agong.
It was the first fully residential girls’ school in Malaysia and over the years, the newspapers often published the sterling results and achievements of its students.
Natasha Qisty Mohd Ridzuan, 18, is the latest top scorer from the TKC. She chalked up A+ in all nine subjects and was interviewed alongside her proud but humble parents.
I found myself swelling with pride listening to her speak in a mixture of Malay and English in a recent interview. She is an intelligent beauty all of us should be proud of.
Instead, some Malaysians have criticised her for speaking English with a foreign accent, and for wearing makeup. As a trainer, I found she spoke with a neutral accent, which is how English should be spoken.
Malaysians speaking with heavy Malay, Chinese or Indian accents lack professionalism, although it is amusing to hear comedians joke in heavily accented English.
My granddaughter learned to speak English by watching educational programmes on television. From the age of two, she spoke “television English” without any accent and in complete sentences.
She could also pronounce words clearly and the last alphabet of every word, distinctly. For example, the “k” would be pronounced in the word “look”.
In contrast, many Malaysians tend to pronounce “wan, too, tree, for, figh, sick, seben, egg, nigh, tan” when counting from one to ten. Many too pronounce the word “film” as “flim”.
At the official opening ceremony of the Tuanku Ja’afar Royal Gallery on Dec 4, 2014, many members of the Negeri Sembilan royal family were present.
I noticed that many of them spoke in British-accented English, which did not surprise me as they received their education in the United Kingdom.
I speak to my brother and three sisters in English with a little local accent, much the same way Malaysians who went to local English schools do.
But this can be alien to younger Malaysians who have studied in national schools, and who may take exception to those who speak English with a neutral accent.
However, there is no need to measure up to the standards of the critics, which are so low that their only interest is to pull others down to their level.
Natasha should keep raising her bar and be wary that the number of detractors will increase the higher she climbs. There is no need to please everyone, and no point offending either.
Like your proud parents, the nation is behind you. May you continue to develop, stay beautiful and have a good life by being kind and compassionate.
YS Chan is an FMT reader.
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