Debate over role of English


The debate is still ongoing between those who believe that a mastery of English is needed for Malaysia to become a so-called ‘knowledge economy’ and those who believe that the quality of education is more important than the medium of instruction.

See this Insider article. Both sides may have a point in some of their arguments.

But what is thoroughly hypocritical is that the same leaders who marginalise the role of English in our schools (and let these schools suffer in mediocrity through lack of investment and priority in education) then enrol their children in English-language international schools based in Malaysia or even send their children to study abroad in posh schools. Check out this Insider article.

To me, what is most important is the content (and of course the quality) of what is taught, and whether the education is holistic and teaches students to become more critical and aware of the world around them, and whether creativity is encouraged. It is vital for values such as compassion, integrity, justice and concern for the well-being of the human family, especially those suffering most, are promoted. The ability to analyse important issues of the day is also important. In short, we have to inculcate a sense of social conscience and responsibility, apart from imparting living skills and developing inherent talents to the full.

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There is no doubt that English is important for our country, but NOT at the expense of the national language which stands for our identity. I think our non-English speaking brethren will open their minds as long as they see the dire symptoms of that language encroaching on theirs, such as bahasa rojak on TV. Right now I’ve become a novice translator for BM dubbed programmes. Currently, majority of BM-dubbed content is originally in English, possibly followed by Korean and Chinese. When I was younger, the BM dubbing scene was far smaller and focused on Japanese anime/superhero programmes. To become… Read more »


There is no question that Bahasa Malaysia is our National Language. Hence its special position. But when it comes to serious academic adventurism, when one wants to do his Ph.d in say UCLA or Oxford you’ve got to be good in English. Its as simple as that. Don’t fool yourself. Ask Rais Yatim, as he recently did his Ph.d in England etc. Can BM replace English as the world’s most spoken language? NO is the honest answer. Can we Malays isolate ourselves from the rest of the world and insist everyone speak to us in BM? No is the simple… Read more »


If English is the determinant factor in becoming an advanced nation, Germany, Japan and Korea would never be what they are today.

There’s some other factor at play here and it’s not language.

We should encourage our children to master more than one language – English is one of them. Having said that, there is no proof that teaching Science & Math in English would help them master the subjects or the language.

The problem with Malaysia is that we have too many idiots as ministers – thanks to the idiots who voted for them.


good point. cant argue with that.

Tok Wan

The Germans, Koreans and Japanese can use their language and be successful.

But Malaysians can continue to borrow English terms for adaptasi and inspirasi to achieve their aspirasi dan misi.

Yes we can be successful by using BM.
We have proven ourselves with the tallest twin towers, national car (Proton our pride or our ‘prida’). See Malaysian Book of Records and you will be very proud of our achievements.

We can swim channels, sail round the world… the list go on. English is not a factor so long as we have that Kamus Dwi Bahasa….


UMNO do not want to use English but they keep repeating them time and time again – UMNO == United Malay National Organisation. Why don`t they use “Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu or PKMB instead

This is just hypocrisy


And who says life is a pair of crutches entitled for your entire life?
Even God doesn’t promise that.
Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.
(Proverbs 10:4)


very well said


The more languages you learn, the more ‘portable’ you can be as a career person. Then you can cari makan anywhere as a global citizen instead of hibernating in self-denial under a windowless coconut shell your entire life. See, the whole world is a changing since the advent of the wonderful internet and compuetrs. And if one is head-over-heel too proud of his native language to the exclusion of other languages, imagine how is he going to interact and cari makan with foreigners doing businesses, visiting, and for other social, cultural or political engagements in Malaysia. This will be to… Read more »


It is up to the Malays if they dont want to learn maths and science in English. It is their natural right. in fact they must not learn english at all. Even the romanized letters used in Malay should be converted into Jawi. the price they will pay however is they will always be playing second fiddle to those who take the time and energy to learn read and write english properly. come on if every Malay could speak read and write english then we will have a very good education system. We cant have that in Malaysia, can we?… Read more »


Don’t worry too much for the malays.

Umno has been teaching them English by using Bahasa Melayu. You see those umno fellows have been using … malay language to learn English and at the same time trying to impress us.

Examples you can see daily:
Situasi = situation
Produk = Product
Visi = Vision
Prinsip = Principle
Realisasi = Realization
Penetrasi = Penetration
Risiko = Risk
Akses = Access
Posisi = Position


heh heh heh good one


Very sad that Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka is allowing such words when there are original malay words.


now in malaysia there are so many private schools dont worry about what the government does. my advise to all malaysians is learn english and mandarin if possible.


A Quality Education without English? Its either naive or indulgent thinking. Might as well say that Najib NEM would work. Its just NOT a plan. If you say you rather live with a less than the top quality because you want BM that is realistic. But to say you want a quality education without English? Its simply not a plan..


So far I haven’t have any chance in hearing any Korean proclaming “Korea Boleh!”, nor any Japanese proclaiming “Japan Boleh!”, as compared to Bolehland.

Which means, Bolehland is more “Boleh” than Korea and Japan combined. Don’t use English pun boleh.

Plain Truth

This guy is a hypocrite….
Politicians like him will hasten the day when we see Dr. M flagging off the first contingent of Malaysian maids-for exports.


Those ministers have got no concern because their children can learn English at International School, then continue their tertiary education in USA, Britain, Canada or Australia.

They are fooling us all along.
Why do you still vote for them?
Blame yourself.
I pity your children…


I’m afraid those that say we don’t need English to succeed(including Idris Jala) simplify it to the point of it being a flawed logic. We can’t simply point our finger to Korea and Japan. Doing so is ignoring their history. We can’t look at any one nation without looking at what it went through. We must also realise Malaysia’s history. We were an important British colony and English is the strength of this region. And SEA has always been an open, trade centred region that accepted traders from all over the world. Opposed to Korea and especially Japans closed border… Read more »


It (will… deprive) the young (especially the malays) the opportunity to learn English so that they would not be able to understand the analysis of foreign press and media on Malaysia.

BN want them to read Utusan, Harian Metro dan Kosmo to be happy that all those KPI and NKRA have made malaysia successful.

Aneel David Kannabhiran Posted in deadalienx’s blog in July last year: There’s been a lot of talk, maybe too much talk about “Teaching Math and Science in Bahasa or English” with many views either rooted in smugness (ie: ‘my English is superb, so…’) or fear (ie: ‘my English sucks, so …’) or indignation (ie: “It was MY … apanamaa … idea, so HOW DARE YOU … apanama … scrap it, ah??”). Whatever your take on the matter is, and wherever it’s rooted, let the Dead Alien have the last and authoritative word … : Keep Maths n Sci in BM. Learning English… Read more »