While agreeing with government efforts to brush up English language competency among civil servants, Cuepacs president Azih Muda has called for more time before this move is implemented.
To me, whether more time or less time is given, the reality is that most sitting civil servants are grossly incompetent in English.
In fact, even many holding Grade 48 posts are unable to even write a cheque with the numerals properly spelt in English.
So poor is their command of the language that most cannot utter a simple sentence in English, much less write grammatically correct sentences when needed. Their English oral skills, if any, are limited to “yes”, “no”, “ok” and “alright”.
In view of the glaring deterioration of English competency among civil servants, it is good that the new government has initiated some remedial efforts.
However, with English being a complex language, most people struggle to master it, more so if they are already middle-aged.
Hence, these government servants will show little improvement even if the government is willing to retrain them in the usage of the language. Some may not even show a shred of improvement until the day they retire from the service.
For the long term, it will be more effective if candidates with a good command of English be promoted to certain posts that require the use of such competencies.
Further more, the future intake of civil servants into professional and managerial groups (Grade 41), should focus on those who already possess proper English competencies.
The government should not waste time and money retraining those who don’t. By right, potential candidates should already be adequately competent in both Bahasa Malaysia and English before getting into government service and pledging to serve the people and country.
SF Thean is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.