Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lessons from The International Malay Oratory Competition Finals 2009 (Pertandingan Pidato Antarabangsa Bahasa Melayu 2009 Piala TPM)

Last night I watched The International Malay Oratory Competition Finals 2009 (Pertandingan Pidato Antarabangsa Bahasa Melayu 2009 Piala Timbalan Perdana Menteri) for the first time. Most of the participants were neither native English nor Malay speakers. But they all debated in Malay language, even the Australian student! I was amazed on how well foreign students speak Bahasa Melayu fluently after only 2 years but most of Malaysia people cannot speak a word of English after more than 11 years in school!

It reminded me on the few months back’s issue of whether to revert back to teaching Maths and Science in Bahasa Malaysia instead of English.
For me, by keeping Maths and Science in English, it helps our people to speak English properly in order to get on in the world.

Winner of The International Malay Oratory Competition Finals 2009, Novavy Sies (middle) from Cambodia with 1st runner-up Ayleen O’ Hanion (Australia) and the 2nd runner-up from Netherlands, Shavira Alaydrus (right)

I still remember. I was 14 when I was admitted to hospital 13 years back due to an appendix operation. At that time most of the doctors and nurses were non-Malays who speak English most of the time. They asked me if I need a Malay nurse for easier communication during the admittance. I said no as I can communicate quite well in English, and they were quite surprised as from their experience, Malay kids cannot speak or understand English well. Thanks to my late father who never stopped speaking to us in English at home back then.

I know most of Malaysian parents now are taking incentives by speaking English to their children at home. This will definitely create a balance language environment where students will polish their mother tongues and naturally pick up other local languages through exposures from school.

Excerpts from our Deputy PM's speech during the event last night:-

Do not be “overly obsessed” with protecting Bahasa Melayu that we overlook or reject some aspects of foreign civilisations which are good for Malaysia.

“Foreign elements” which helped to enrich knowledge, enhance technology and even the local culture should not be pushed aside,

“One has to be rational in choosing and determining what is good and beneficial and not reject globalisation and changes outright.
“While language reflects a race, the ability to speak, read and write in other languages must not be seen as an erosion of one’s intelligence and identity.

DPM and Mohamed Khaled with Novavy (second from left) and Mohd Syamsul (right) after the prize giving ceremony last night
“In Malaysia, knowing another language does not mean Bahasa Melayu will be weak and meaningless,”

Despite the language being relatively young in terms of terminology in science and technology compared to English, it did not mean Bahasa Melayu has been set aside.

He gave the assurance that the Government will continue to be committed in enhancing the importance of the Malay language.

“We will continue to uphold Bahasa Melayu as the premier language of this country.

“Even though we allow room for the English language to exist in the country’s education system, Bahasa Melayu will continue to be the official language of this system,” he said.
Source: Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia


Anonymous said...

I missed the first quarter but watched the Russian participant and beyond. I really like the Cambodian speaker - basic points about Malaysian History but spoke out with interest and it's importance.

You wrote really good in here about English for Maths and Science. I couldn't agree more and we need to go Global even if Spanish, Russian or Chinese is the next International Language.

My late father wrote to me for 20 years in English ! Dedicated and perseverance.

Please write the title post that you need to know in Photoshop again. Thanks.

Sharimar said...

Thanks for the constructive opinion. Do hope our people mindset will have some revolution ssoon!