[lg policy] Sarawak govt never agreed to change present policy on English usage
haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon Sep 10 09:05:00 EDT 2018
=+ S’wak govt never agreed to change present policy on English usage
September 5, 2018, Wednesday Peter Boon
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Dr Annuar Rapaee
SIBU: The Sarawak government has never agreed to change its present policy
regarding the use of English, said Assistant Minister of Education and
Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee.
He pointed out that for that reason, English is also used in the State
Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting, adding that Sarawak rights on English
Language has been clearly outlined in the Inter-Government Committee (IGC)
He asserted that it is clearly stipulated that under paragraph 17 (1) of
the IGC Report, which states that the present policy and system of
administration of education in Sarawak (including their present Ordinances)
should be undisturbed and remain under the control of the Government of the
State until that Government otherwise agrees.
“The IGC Report paragraph 17 (a) states that although Education (item 13
(a) of the Federal List in the Ninth Schedule) will be a federal subject,
the present policy and system of administration of education in North
Borneo and Sarawak (including their present Ordinances) should be
undisturbed and remain under the control of the Government of the State
until that Government otherwise agrees – in particular, the present policy
in the Borneo States regarding the use of English should continue.
“Therefore, in education, it is clear that the usage of English in
education should be continue until unless Sarawak State Government
otherwise agrees,” Dr Annuar, who is also Assistant Minister of Housing and
Public Health, said in a media statement today.
The Nangka assemblyman was responding to a report in an online portal
headlined “Ministry: Unlawful to use English as medium of instruction in
schools” where it was stated that the Education Ministry was against the
use of English as the medium of instruction in national schools as it
violated Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution and the National
Language Act 1963/67, adding that contravened the letter and spirit of the
Education Act 1996.
It was further reported that the Education Ministry in a written
parliamentary reply to Batang Sadong MP Nancy Shukri, said therefore, to
preserve and honour the supremacy of the constitution and the law, the
ministry does not suggest that English be used as the medium of instruction
in schools, including schools in Sarawak.
In response to this, Dr Annuar remarked: “I want to question the Ministry
of Education whether there is any point in time that Sarawak government has
agreed to change what has been stipulated in IGC Report paragraph 17 (1)
“If my memory serves me right – there is no point in time as far as history
is concerned that Sarawak government has agreed to make such changes.
“Furthermore, the IGC Report must be adhered to otherwise the Malaysia
Agreement 1963 (MA63), which is based on IGC Report is not being respected.
Therefore, the Ministry of Education’s reply should take into account the
IGC Report as per paragraph 17 (1) (a) and we (Sarawak government) has
never agreed to change present policy regarding the use of English.”
In fact, according to Dr Annuar, Sarawak rights on English Language, is
also enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
“Under Article 152(1)(a), “no person shall be prohibited or prevented from
using (otherwise than for official purposes), or from teaching or learning,
any other language”. There was a case previously which clarified that there
is a constitutional right to teach and learn any language as a separate
subject. Therefore, any educational institution in Sarawak can teach any
language, including English language.
“In addition to the right to teach and learn English, English language also
can be the main medium of instruction in any educational institution in
Sarawak but subject to the national language (Malay language) being taught
as a compulsory subject as provided in section 17 of the Education Act
1996,” he cited.
Dr Annuar also noted for Expatriate Schools – under Section 15 of the
Education Act 1996, education in expatriate or international schools is not
subject to the national education system and curriculum.
Likewise, he noted that kindergartens under Section 23 and 25 of the
Education Act, language other than Malay language maybe used as a medium of
instruction in kindergartens and child care centres.
“If Expatriate Schools and kindergartens can use English – then why not
national schools (be permitted to use English as the medium of instruction).
“If we think that English is important, we should give freedom to other
states to use whatever (language) that they think is good for them. There
should be no restrictions imposed for any other states on the use of any
language to improve themselves including English apart from the upholding
the national language – Bahasa Melayu.”
He reckoned if the government allows the setting up of International
schools across the country then, children from the well-to-do families
would flock to such institutions, which utilise English as the medium of
On that note, he voiced concern that if the matter is not tackled
holistically, it will lead to the widening of knowledge gaps between poor
and rich students.
“The gap in term of employability and opportunities will also widen. We
have already seen the performance of rural students in term of
employability and opportunities besides self-confidence to that of students
from well off families in urban areas.
“Do not misconstrue that Bahasa Malaysia is not important but as our
national language – it should be upheld and its use further strengthened.
“What I am trying to say is that the present education system does not
provide equal opportunity at the moment between poor and rich students
thus, widening the divide,” he pointed out.
Dr Annuar recalled that in the Borneo Post article dated Aug 18, 2018, he
for the state government to use the RM1 billion loan offer for the federal
government to repair 1,020 dilapidated schools in Sarawak if the PH federal
government was not prepared to accept it, to build state own schools
modelled upon international school curriculum.
This will provide more opportunities, including a level playing field for
rural students, he said.sts=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+
Harold F. Schiffman
Professor Emeritus of
Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305
Phone: (215) 898-7475
Fax: (215) 573-2138
Email: haroldfs at gmail.com
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