[lg policy] Malaysia: Fatimah: English just as important

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Nov 27 16:12:53 UTC 2015

 Fatimah: English just as important

by yu ji <http://www.thestar.com.my/Authors?q=%22Yu+Ji%22>

[image: Fatimah (second from right) speaking to Sarawak Society For The
Deaf president Albert Wong and other members on the planning for the
Malaysia Deaf Games, which will be held in Sarawak next year.]

Fatimah (second from right) speaking to Sarawak Society For The Deaf
president Albert Wong and other members on the planning for the Malaysia
Deaf Games, which will be held in Sarawak next year.

*KUCHING: *Sarawak’s Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister
indicates the state will not back down from its English as the second
official language policy.

Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, who keeps a watching brief on education for the
state as the matter falls under the purview of the Federal Government, said
the Sarawak government wanted as many people as possible to be bilingual or

“I also don’t see how learning two languages well would make us less
patriotic. I ‘sayang’ Sarawak, I love Malaysia,” Fatimah said yesterday.

Pressed for more comments, the minister replied she did not want to repeat
the criticism of others whom had sparked negativity.

“We never said we should not use Bahasa Malaysia. In fact, look at the
Malaysia Education Blueprint – both languages are stressed. Here, we are
trying to do something we hope will provide the right environment for
everyone in society to realise the importance of English,” Fatimah said.

She added that it made sense to encourage the state civil service to be
English proficient as Sarawak was wooing more international investment. “We
encourage foreign companies to come here. We emphasise the Sarawak Corridor
of Renewal Energy. One way to improve is to be multilingual.”

Fatimah was speaking to reporters after a briefing on the Malaysia Deaf
Games, which will be held in Sarawak next year.

It was the second time this week Fatimah had defended Chief Minister Tan
Sri Adenan Satem’s English as an official language alongside Bahasa
Malaysia policy.

On Monday, when opening a Asean rural and indigenous education seminar,
Fatimah, who was a school principle before becoming a politician, said
Adenan had shown “political will” on the English policy.

“It has been stated clearly by the CM. Once it is stated, we know where we
stand, then we can plan,” she said, adding that without political will, no
politician would have wanted to push through such a matter.

The state government had requested Teacher Education Institutes to give
special consideration to prospective rural trainees on English, she said.

An institute in Miri has begun taking in more Penan school-leavers to train
them to become English teachers.

On a related matter, five Penan villages in Tutoh-Apoh area in Baram would
have new purposed built kindergartens next to their longhouses. The
in-community early childhood centres are being funded by Petronas upon the
state’s requests.

“Had we waited for normal (funding) procedures, then the longhouses would
have had to wait. Since we wanted to provide the longhouses access to early
childhood education faster, we negotiated with Petronas and manage to get
allocations for the first five years (of the programme),” Fatimah said.

Funding for the kindergartens will eventually come from the Community
Development Department.

In Sarawak, there are over 16,000 Penans in 130 villages, mostly around
Baram in Miri and Belaga in Kapit.

The pre-school project by Petronas is for the Penan villages of Long
Jenalong, Long Kerangan, Long Leng, Long Kawa and Long Selulong, all along
the Sabah-Sarawak gas pipeline.


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