Malaysia: Why question English policy now?

Theodorus du Plessis dplesslt.HUM at
Thu Mar 12 06:32:29 UTC 2009

The instruction-in-English-for-bilingualism-purposes argument is the one
we that have been hearing constantly from the new rulers in South Africa
(before and) after 1994. Perhaps Malaysia could learn from South Africa
about the adverse effect of such approach to bilingualism in education.
Read about our dismal school results in Reviews of National Policies for
Education. South Africa (OECD 2008) and the role of the Malaysian type
of approach. 

Prof. L.T. du Plessis
Eenheid vir Taalbestuur/Unit for Language Management
Universiteit van die Vrystaat/University of the Free State
Posbus/P.O. Box 339
9300 RSA
Tel:  +27 51-401 2405
Faks/Fax: +27 51-444 5804
E-pos/E-mail: dplesslt.hum at

>>> On 2009/03/10 at 04:56 PM, <hfsclpp at> wrote:
Lam Thye: Why question English policy now?

PETALING JAYA: Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye has defended the
use of English in the teaching of Mathematics and Science.

“Why question it now? I am surprised that there are groups who are
questioning the policy after it has been in place for six years.

“There is nothing wrong with the policy, although there might be
weaknesses in its implementation,” he said when contacted yesterday.

More than 2,000 people marched to Istana Negara last Saturday to hand
over a memorandum to the King asking for the return of Bahasa Malaysia
as the medium of instruction for Mathematics and Science.

Lee said the argument that teachers were not fluent in English was not
justified as it was the execution of the policy that needed to be

“What needs to be done is to address these weaknesses, not the policy,”
he said.

He also said global competitiveness was anchored in the proficiency of
English, and that the policy should not be regarded as a threat to
Bahasa Malaysia as the national language.

“The teaching of Mathematics and Science in English is not a show of
disrespect to the national language.

“For the future of our country, we should take steps to improve the
standard of English. It’s a good thing for Malaysians to be bilingual.

“Our education system should also not be politicised. It’s not good
for the progress and the future of our nation,” he said.

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