The aftermath of PPSMI policy

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First and foremost, I would like to thank YOU for all the kind compliments and words of wisdom I received in the previous article.

Obviously I am very appreciative towards any feedback be it positive of negative. But the sincerity I read within the lines gave me a lot of courage to continue doing what I have done for the past 3 years.

Therefore, again, for the millionth time, Thank you.

This time, I would like to add something about the recent announcement of our government leaders and a recent announcement by EF EPI, an international organsation that had recently measured the English proficiency ranking of non native speaking countries.

Back in 2009, the Government had made their decision to reverse PPSMI and gradually abolish it. Starting from 2012, the subjects on Mathematics and Science in all schools will revert to Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin and Tamil in respective schools. By the year 2017 in primary and 2016 in secondary, all children in both primary and secondary will learn all the subjects in Bahasa Malaysia, with the exception of the English subject of course.

And, with the exception of children in vernacular schools too.

All children in national schools will learn mathematics and science in Bahasa Malaysia again, while all children in mandarin and tamil schools will learn those subjects in their respective mother tongues.

That is the outcome of the opposition’s relentless pursuit to oppose anything just for the sake of opposing. I mentioned the opposition because Pakatan Rakyat leaders were involved in the various platforms conducted by the Gerakan Mansuhkan PPSMI (GMP) which incidentally headed by A. Samad Said, an iconic ‘pejuang bahasa kebangsaan’.

Much is left to be desired when this so called pejuang bahasa kebangsaan stopped short in asking the vernacular schools to switch its medium of teaching language to Bahasa Malaysia. Hence I find it really hypocritical of him when he assumed that GMP will bring dignity to Bahasa Malaysia among Malaysians.

In fact, his foray in politicising the national language will further alienate the races between each other.

I believe the PPSMI would be one of the factor that would attract Malaysia parents to send their children to the national schools. The other main factor is the lessening of Islamic /Arabic influence in the daily routine of activities of the school. But that is another matter altogether.

At that time, if GMP and the Minister in Education said that Bahasa Malaysia has finally and correctly ‘dimartabatkan’, then so be it.

The aftermath of the decision has led to various lobby groups being set up to lobby for the return of PPSMI. The most prominent is called Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE).

The stark contrast between GMP and PAGE is the absence of street demonstrations. We all remember the pretentious street demonstrations organised by GMP and led by several opposition leaders back in early 2009. It was pretentious because Bahasa Malaysia now became the domain of the Malays; not the rest of Malaysians.

Only the Malays should dignify the national language. The non-Malays can continue strengthen their own mother tongue. Only the Malays are chastised if they use English as their main language to converse. Non-Malays can use English with impunity.

Nevermind the fact that Bahasa Malaysia should be used by all Malaysians. GMP forgot to support the one stream education system which suggested the use of Bahasa Malaysia as the main medium of learning in most of the subjects.

GMP, if they were serious, should make Bahasa Malaysia the mother tongue of all Malaysians.

To me, it doesn’t make sense to chastise Malays who wanted to learn mathematics and science in English when Bahasa Malaysia is already their mother tongue. Being the mother tongue of approximately 17 million of the population is already a dignified accomplishment of Malaysia. What they should have pursued is the usage of Bahasa Malaysia as the mother tongue of 100% of the population.

Hence the one stream education system is the way to go. But GMP seemed more interested in looking at narrower view i.e., looking only at the Malays and not the overall populace.

That is why they are labeled as pretentious and not serious enough in their battles for Bahasa Malaysia’s survival.

Fortunately and finally, PAGE’s objectives had been heard by the Government. Last week, the Minister of Education, announced the possibility of a dual medium of instruction in schools.

Although the details are sketchy, I believe the MOE will give schools the power to decide which language to teach mathematics and science. The Parent-Teacher Associations of  each school will undoubtedly be given the voting power to decide on this matter.

But what is unclear is whether this will cover vernacular schools as well. Those  powerful vernacular cartels such as Dong Jiao Zong will almost certainly and vehemently defend their racial turf.

We all know a lost cause when we see one. The only way for them to see beyond racial lenses is to have a strong national leader that can make them see the benefits of having one stream national education system.

All things considered, I think this is the best time to propagate PPSMI. In 2009, the MOE made a good decision to limit the number of subjects in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) to 10 subjects.

With smaller number of subjects for the students to study, all the excess energy that was used to gain 15As, 18As and even 20As  in the previous years can be channeled into learning mathematics and science in English. Also, extra co curricular activities will automatically be emphasised more by the students as they would certainly want to make their curriculum vitae more marketable than their peers.

Being in sports, clubs, societies and uniformed groups will enhance their social skills and leadership qualities.

Those are a couple of great assets for an aspiring student to venture into the realm of tertiary education and beyond.

The recent survey made by Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) listed the ability of good written and spoken English as the main criteria to employ new employees.  Out of ten traits, 68% of employers listed that as the most sought after attribute of a prospective employees.

Good academic results came out 7th at 37.9% while 56.2% of employers valued interpersonal skills as the 3rd most sought after trait.

Bottomline, your paper results will not be nearly as important as your social interactivity skills. And the ability to write a nice business letter and to speak English with confidence top everything else.

You will be a star employee if you can master scientific or business terminologies with ease.

Anyhow, we hope the Ministry of Education will not forget to improve the overall standard of education in our national schools and continue to produce more positive news and good results in order to promote the national education to the masses.

It is enlightening to read about the news that among the non native English speaking country in this world, Malaysia is ranked at 9th position and the 1st among Asian countries with population that has high proficiency in English.

It is ironic to note that Singapore which has Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin and Tamil as their official languages  is not considered non native English speaking country anymore. In other words, Singapore is now considered an anglophile state according to international standards.

They do speak good Singaporean English.

But Malaysia, that had laid so much importance towards her national language, can strive to be among the best English speaking country in the world, speaks a lot about our education system.

We want to be global. Yet, we retain our identity as Malaysian.

Orang Malaysia bukan sahaja mesti pandai berbahasa Malaysia tapi mesti pandai berbahasa Inggeris juga. Baru boleh duduk sama rendah, berdiri sama tinggi. Boleh mengharung globalisasi tapi tak hilang jati diri.

Terima kasih. Thank you.


67 thoughts on “The aftermath of PPSMI policy

  1. I fully agree that “The only way for them to see beyond racial lenses is to have a strong national leader that can make them see the benefits of having one stream national education system.” It’s high time we clamour for one.

    It is unfortunate that Dato Seri Najib is not one. Whatever reasons he might have for not acting beyond saying “Single-stream education will be implemented when the rakyat wants it”, it is clear that he is not a strong national leader. He does not even dare engage in a dialogue as to how to determine whether the rakyat wants it now or not.

    The Satu Sekolah Untuk Semua (SSS) proponents have suggested that referendum is the best and safest way for him to do so. Silence denotes his personality of accomodating and pandering to the wishes of the small minority. Despite the fact that even when he promised RM3 million to a Serendah Chinese school during the PRK Hulu Selangor, the voters there accepted the offer (and later collected the cheque) though political analysts pointed out that the Serendah voters voted the Opposition.

    I also agree that the PPSMI would be a strong factor in attracting parents to send their children to the national schools. We have nothing to lose but a lot to gain by having PPSMI. We must keep up with the advancement in science and technology. Other countries have been sending rockets to outer space and have nuclear bombs. We don’t even have a nuclear power plant. That the Japanese are jittery of the Fukushima radiation leaks is no argument to stop our nuclear power plant programme. We are blessed in not being in the earthquake zone. A lot of technological knowledge are communicated and transferred in English. Let us not remain backward for not looking forward.


  2. Actually, the thing that struck me most about the MEF survey was that the top factor identified was “communication skills” not language skills. I support the aim of teaching Maths and Sciences in English, but I’m not sure if this is enough.

    I’ve had occasion to spend time with some of our unemployed graduates. Their command of English is poor, no question. But what stands out as well is that their communication skills in BM are just as poor, even if their command of the language is miles better.

    The sad fact is that many of our graduates simply can’t express their thoughts or present a logical argument no matter what language they’re speaking. And fixing this will require more than a few more hours a week in English.


  3. Well said Jebat! I hope this proposal by MOE to allow schools to decide medium of instruction menjadi. Got to go now … start campaigning to the PIBG.


  4. One malaysia of many languages, just like Itik,Ayam,Angsa ,Ayam belanda in one reban, and they lived happyly ever after.
    What other correct way to achive ONE MALAYSIA.

    1sekolah 1bahasa 1malaysia


  5. Studies upon studies had tested the relationship between languages and achievement in mathematics. Consistent results of high achievements in math are from languages with
    1. monosyllable for number words. eg. seven is 2 syllables and sembilan is 3 syllables.
    Who will find learning easier with 9×9=81 – sembilan, sembilan, lapan puluh satu
    or, nine, nine, eighty-one.
    and 7×7=49 – seven, seven, forty-nine or qi,qi,si-shi-jiu。

    2. decimal system in number words. eg. eleven should be ten-one, twenty-one should be two-tens- one.

    3. Also there will be minimum number of words to learn in languages with decimal system for number words. To count from 1 to 100 in Chinese, you only need to learn 11 words and they are all monosyllable!

    If you must learn math, wouldn’t you want to choose a language that can make learning math easier?


    • yeah….right….

      let us all adopt mandarin then bla bla bla…..

      Mate, all that I see there as an advantage with mandarin is in doing lightning manual calculation. This is all there is which is not really that significant of advantage nowadays since we have electronic calculator to do so.

      What more important is to understand the underlying principle which would take us further in science and technology rather than just being a competent user of it.

      For this reason, you can see that despite the advantage of having the monosyllable wording, globally in mathematics areas, except for a few, it is not the Chinese who is the pioneer in mathematics. It is not the chinese who first develop calculus, algebra, logarithm, matrix and such. Most are Jewish, European and American white and Arabs.

      And yes, if you look at mathematical ranking globally, the Chinese people do rank among the top and they are undoubtedly a very competent USER of mathematic indeed. However the power of understanding the underlying principal and breakthrough/developing a new concept of mathematics is far more beneficial than merely being a competent users.

      As a conclusion, I would like to state that I dont see any considerable benefit in using mandarin as the language of teaching mathematics.


      • Agree with you, ikhwan.

        Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawkings and others did not speak monosyllabic arithmetics when young.

        The Chinese have a long history but one full of wars, rebellions, revolutions (even so-called Cultural Revolution in the 1960s), treachery, corruption, communism etc. The Arabs had 500 years of glory 8th-13th Century where they were more advanced than even the Europeans in Science and Mathematics.

        The Chinese had over 1,000 inventions but became well known in the arts – paintings, pottery and the like. Nevertheless, they were largely ignored and bullied, invaded and ruled by the Mongols, later by the Manchus, the British (Hong Kong was returned to China only in the 1990s), by the Japanese etc. China was regarded as a pariah until only 2 decades or so ago. They developed nuclear weapons in the 60s but were never known for mathematical, scientific and technological excellence until today.

        This idea of learning Maths through Mandarin or whatever monosyllabic arithmetic is a non-starter. I dare say it’s hogwash, trying to divert attention from the issue being discussed – PPSMI.

        I want PPSMI, for reasons that have been put out many times.


        • China is successful today in science & maths simply because the people there i.e the students study & work diligently, unlike our students who are more interested in playing around. Look at national schools. The kids just mess around. Chinese students on average spend more time on homework. It is not difficult to master science & maths. You practice. As the saying goes “practice makes perfect”. If you don’t understand the riddles, how do you solve it ? Chinese students score highly in international test simply because they understand the subjects. How do you solve the riddles if you don’t understand the underlying subjects ? So before you say something, think first. There is a Chinese saying “if you want to make a fool of yourself, open your mouth and start talking”.


          • Are you referring to yourself there – “if you want to make a fool of yourself, open your mouth and start talking.”

            There”s another saying – “Stupid things amuse the nuisance, what more the fool”. Have you thought about other sayings before putting out the Chinese saying?

            Wo la wei, you have not quoted any authority on what you said and as they stand, they are only opinions. I was quite prepared to accept them them as your personal opinions until I reached the end of your comment, Chinese Malaysian.

            That’s how we get all sorts of anxieties with people like you. You can’t even express an opinion without stupidly quoting non-relevant proverbs and inciting ill feelings. Like DAP goons, thugs and gangsters.

            Be civil, man. Be responsible. Put out your arguments supported by facts and well documented information, like I have done. Let’s give our views here in decorum and good manners. Let’s not distract the discussion.


            • Salam JMD,

              With your kind permission.

              Aku said … Be civil, man. Be responsible. Put out your arguments supported by facts and well documented information, like I have done.

              Well said Aku.

              Btw, have you found the evidence for Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s role in the naming of public building, facility, receptacle, or char koay teow stall after Sun Yat Sen?

              Background info – Aku asserted in Kijang Mas’ deminegara blog that Lim Guan Eng had a hand in the naming of some public building after Sun Yat Sen. But till today Aku has yet to produce a shred of evidence on that matter.

              So how Aku? Or are you just like RPK, being reliably informed by reliable informers with inside information. Just be careful not to end up being the fall guy for people with their own agendas.

              Thank you for the space JMD, to allow this side business between this sleepyhead and Aku.

              msleepy a.k.a. Aku’s bitch!

              p/s- I have to agree with Aku that language is not the issue here. One of the first written scripts of humankind (sumerian) was developed originally in what is now modern day Iraq 3000 years BC and the Japanese uses an adopted script (the kanji) that was only picked up in the early AD. But look where both countries are today. Language is only part of the equation and should not be overemphasized.


              • msleepy a.k.a. Aku’s bitch!,

                Your words, not mine. You named yourself so, up there.

                This bitch – I don’t know his/her motive for trying to gun me on this Sun Yat Sen matter. Maybe as Adam (“Adam of DN”) said, there’s love-hate relationship between us! Btw, she has doggedly refused to identify his/her gender, saying it’s nothing to do with our Internet discussions, refusing even to see that it’s damn difficult to address him, or is it her. And Godammit, I don’t want to do an Anwar on her if she is a him!

                However, that she used the word bitch on herself earlier on suggests that it’s a she. OK, I’ll refer to her as a she from now on.

                I’ll do a one-time reply to her on this one as a new post has emerged anyway.

                msleepy a.k.a. Aku’s bitch!,

                This matter has been quite some time already, so accuracy of the information may be wanting. But it pertains to an event where Lim Guan Eng officiated. It was an opening ceremony of a facility. I could not remember whether it was a building or what. I have thought it was but later used the word facility. What I read it was named after Sun Yat Sen.

                Now, What is wrong with my criticizing the naming of that facility so? Irrespective of whether Guan Eng or some others named it so. The fact remains that Guang Eng officiated the opening ceremony, therefore, as Chief Minister, endorsed the name.

                What has Sun Yat Sen to do with Penang except that he used it as a sanctuary of sorts during the revolution (you may correct me there – he lived in Penang for a while). His contribution was in China and what has it got to do with Penang that he merely tumpang for a while? He was the founder of the Republic of China, played a part in overthrowing the Manchus, foreigners who invaded and ruled China for a few hundred years, that most Chinese hated and wanted to get rid of. But that was China, Miss. He didn’t spread revolutionary ideas when in Penang that the Chinese here appreciated greatly, did he? If so, he ought to have been shot. We don’t want Malaysian Chinese to be injected with ideas of revolutions, don’t you see? We fought Chin Peng until he got abandoned in the Betong salient of south Thailand, don’t you know that?

                There was Lim Guan Eng/ Kit Siang shouting about being Malaysian First and Chinese Second. I said this was looking to Sun Yat Sen First, China Second. It’s hardly Malaysian First, China Second, is it?

                The fact that a Federal Minister was present at the ceremony does not mean it’s correct, beyond criticism and reproach. It’s like naming a Malaysian facility after Sukarno. Would you think it appropriate if so?

                I know Felda has named one settlement Kampung Suharto. But it was because Indonesia gave financial assistance, Suharto visited the land scheme and the Malaysian Government gave him the honour of officiating the opening ceremony in memory of the financial assistance.

                Again, I ask you, what contribution has Sun Yat Sen made to Malaysian society? That the facility (whatever it was) was private is not relevant. That the Chief Minister, who was shouting about being Malaysian First, Chinese Second officiated the opening ceremony was relevant.

                Now, you tell me why are you so upbeat about this? Are you also a DAP, or Lim Guan Eng supporter, or you also idolize Sun Yat Sen? Why so? You are a Malaysian, are you not? You should think of Malayans or Malaysians to idolize by way of naming facilities after.

                Why, you don’t like Malayans or Malaysians? Why, because you were not around when Hang Tuah or Tengku A Rahman was around? Neither were you or Guan Eng around when Sun Yat Sen was around. And the chap was not even a Malayan or a Malaysian.

                And you fuss my criticizing the naming of the facility after SunYat Sen. Is it that “bitch” part of you? Now, now, don’t blame me for using that word – you named yourself that, remember?


    • Hey tan may ling

      Let me share this story with you. One chinese old man, a retired teacher, told me that the secret to great maths skills is to start gambling when young.

      I told him thanks but no thanks. I’d rather fail Maths than to become an addicted gambler. No need to quote unnamed and anonymous “studies upon studies” to back up your unfounded claims.

      P.S. Fact – I coached my chinese classmate Additional Maths in pre-U days, FOC too!


      • You don’t need to be a gambler to be good in math. In fact a knowledge of probability is most likely to stop you from gambling, especially in casino as the odds are stacked against you.
        But an interest in odds in number games (eg with 4 digits and number cards) will make a person ended up studying a lot of probability and math.


        • But an interest in odds in number games (eg with 4 digits and number cards) will make a person ended up studying a lot of probability and math, and stop gambling.


  6. Saya memandang GMP sebagai pengkhianat bangsa kerana polemik mereka langsung tidak menguntungkan bangsa Melayu.GMP takda common sense langsung dan tidak berfikiran strategik utk kebaikan anak bangsa. Apa guna anak Melayu mendapat 10 A+ dlm SPM atau Kelas Pertama di universiti tetapi peluang mereka untuk bersaing di pasaran adalah ‘Zero’? Adakah puak2 berjanggut putih dan bermata ceme sebelah yg mengepalai GMP tu boleh menjamin masa depan anak2 ini? Speaking English does not make me less Malay than anyone else. Sedar kah GMP bahawa hanya Kerajaan Melayu yg ada sekarang sahaja yg boleh membantu anak2 Melayu yg cerdik tapi tak pandai ‘kecek Mat Saleh’ ni? Dapat kah GMP bayangkan apa akan jadi pada anak2 Melayu yg cerdik tapi tak pandai kecek Mat Salleh ni kalo Melayu bukannya tuan di bumi sendiri? Bagaimana kah anak2 Melayu tersebut nak bersaing dgn orang lain yg handal dan petah berbahasa Omputeh dalam gelanggang yg kononnya dah sama rata kelak? Kenapa GMP berkeras kepala memperjuangkan sesuatu yg terang-terang akan merugikan orang Melayu sendiri? Kamu dah tak boleh nampak apa yg tersirat ke wahai Samad Said?


  7. Having followed the whole PPSMI issue through the online news, I believe kids have a right to choose if they want to study Maths and Science in English or Malay. Parents too have the right to allow their kids to study Maths and Science in English. The government should not change the policy at its fancy. Don’t they realise that English is now a lingua franca in science, computing, media and commerce? If a child prefers to learn maths and science in English, it is his or her right a government should never take away


      • Yes, we should allow kids to decide (for once). How about try creating a survey for all primary school and high school kids (ages between 10 to 18) in Malaysia to ask them and they will tell you what is their preference. That way you will know that the children have spoken.


        • Only in communist China did they allow kids to decide.

          When they had the so-called Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, cleverly designed by Mao Zedong to weed out his political enemies by allowing people to speak out their minds, then let the school children and University students called “Red Guards” to arrest them, paraded them with hands tied along the streets, abused them with shouts of “counter-revolutionaries, revisionists”, kangaroo courts, etc all over the country. These included university professors, lecturers, school teachers and even some of the children’s parents themselves.

          Are you that way inclined, Mr whatsaysyou?

          I say Never. Perhaps in the same tone as Lim Kit Siang said Never to PAS’ Hudud Laws!


          • Thank you for your comment, Aku. As long as asking for opinions from kids is exercised in a proper manner and not like Chairman Mao’s way. At least it has something to do with education nothing else.


    • A good example of school students in Malaysia having their say about what they think of studying Maths and Science in English and their thoughts towards the idea of reverting back to Malay language which was published in the Sunday Star:

      However, that survey could have been done extensively in Malaysia and therefore, that would tell Malaysian adults and the government what the all kids believe according to their rights as school students.


  8. Merdeka University v Government of Malaysia [1982] 2 MLJ 243

    Would Merdeka University be prohibited from teaching in Chinese as the sole or major medium of instruction? it certainly would if it a public authority, for the use of Chinese there would be used for an official purpose which in the constitution read together with the National Language Act says is prohibited..

    In our judgment a public authority includes not only a body of government or quasi government nature but indeed any authority with a public element established by statue and exercising powers vested in it by federal law.. as there is no right to use the Chinese language for an official purpose, accordingly in our judgment it was not unconstitutional and unlawful for the government to reject a Plaintiff’s petition to establish Merdeka University


  9. When we have a strong leader people label him dictatorial out of ignorance, malice or nothing better to say (cakap terengkak2). A weak leader tends to look for leads and voices and pretend that he is strong in mind and decision making giving rise to confusion (as per LKY, durian buddy), with non-ending issues cropping up the rakyat has to battle.

    To cover a mistake with a mistake make the situation worse. Politicians who are perennially ensconced have elitist-eskewed world view rather than proletarian sensitive. Their decisions reflect this. Why there was a vast gap in monetary campaign promises made during urban (Sibu) as compared to non-urban (Merlimau) by-elections? ETP is heavily Klang Valley biased. Efforts made seem to put wool over our eyes. At many instances and time proletariats are powerless.


  10. Salam JMD,

    Let’s not get distracted by rankings by don’tknowwhos. It’s whether our culture and language are ones that encourage knowledge seeking and innovation. And how does that impact the education system and rakyats the school produce.


  11. couldnt agree more. kadang-kadang sampai saya terfikir, mereka yg menentang PPSMI dan mereka yg secara aggresif mempertahan bahasa ibunda, adakah mereka ni benar2 ambil berat dgn pendidikan anak malaysia dan ambil berat ttg perpaduan rakyat malaysia? it seems that they are not.


  12. Dear JMD,

    The Minister of Education’s latest position on PPSMI is encouraging. However, the devil is in the details. If, as you surmised, schools may be given the choice to either adopt PPSMI again or continue to teach in Bahasa Malaysia ( or Mandarin or Tamil as befits any given situation), I welcome the new position on PPSMI with some trepidation. Especially so in the case of rural or semi-urban national schools.

    I fear for many of our rural children who may miss out if school principals in the rural and semi-urban areas, out of sheer laziness or because change is so bothersome, should choose not to adopt PPSMI ( I have enough experience in education – some 30 odd years – to entertain this belief; I hope things have changed and school principals are now appointed on the basis of different criteria to those that existed in the 1990s and previously!)

    Let us all hope and pray that something more positive comes out of this and that PPSMI can be implemented to benefit all and not just some.

    Saya masih ingat lagi kami angkatan 50an dan 60an, walaupun dari latarbelakang yang pelbagai, berupaya menguasai Bahasa Inggeris. Kawan-kawan saya dari kampung-kampung dan estet-estet handal menangani pembelajaran dalam Bahasa Inggeris walaupun sebelum itu hanya berupya berutur dalam Bahasa Melayu sahaja. Jika kami boleh, saya yakin anak muda zaman ini pun boleh juga. Apa nak takut sangat dengan Bahasa Inggeris? Kecuali sekiranya ia menggugat kepentingan ekonomi sesetengah pihak di kalangan kita, bukan?


    • Sir,

      With your 30 years experience in education, plus your observation post retirement, I’m interested to hear your views as to whether there are vested interests in the matter of PPSMI. Perhaps business interest, in the writing, translating and publication of existing/ future books. If so, kindly give some explanation of how, when and who or categories of people involved.

      Not for witch-hunting, but to think out how to get over the PPSMI obstacle.

      Hope to hear from you.


  13. JMD,

    do you think it’s a wise move to allow dual medium of instruction? I’m afraid only the non-malays are keen to learn in english and become the biggest beneficiaries for this policy. On the other hand, afraid for being chastised learning english, Malays will remain backward- no thanks to iconic pejuang bahasa.

    But let us be clear the objective of PPSMI is not about mastering the language. It’s for the knowledge. 🙂


  14. Dear JMD,

    The vernacular schools are here to stay for sometime yet. No matter what the reasoning or rationale, the bare fact truth is that political expediency will always prevail. Both sides of the political spectrum dare not mention it’s abolishment. Hara kiri.

    SSS is the way to go for national integration but Engish must hold an important place as a universal medium for communication and scientific advancement.

    That being said, proficiency in the Chinese language can be very beneficial, seing China as the new economic powerhouse.

    But any language is an advantage. We must have language studies as an optional subject taught in schools, qualitatively beginning from the primary level.

    Most importantly the Govt/MOE must not be changing policies time and again, just stick to one basic policy.

    SSS with Science and Maths in English is the most practicable and will stand the test of time.

    But the key to success of any policy are the teachers. Dedicated, qualified and quality teachers.

    There has never been and never will be any substitute for dedication in a teacher. I am sure everyone will vouch for that.

    Thanks and regards
    No, I’m not on “MC” today 🙂


  15. Strongly agreed with you regarding one school one system and the reintroduction of PPSMI in all school .Vernacular school should be closed and integrated into National School.Chienese and Tamil langguage should be thought and make a compulsary subject in National school.


  16. what should be done was: Teach in BM (main medium of delivery).. but keep the scientific terms and mathematical terms in English. I remember back in uni it’s the mathematics terms that drove me bonkers because of their literal translation into BM and back to English in tertiary education.


  17. ah…maybe if we all learn latin and the romance languages math and science would be even more easier cos of the latin roots. You can pukul 3-4 birds with one stone . You even beat a native speaker of English cos when you know the origin of the word you are able to deduce the meaning which also helps intensify your vocabulary. Not to mention how much we are missing on their beautiful literature and way of looking at things. But we are too hung up on numbers at the moment.


    • Aiseh brader, wat about some other old languages, like Urdu, or Swahili for that matter!

      It’s about PPSMI lah brader. Whether you think good or not and why.

      I think it’s not only good but also necessary. So much science and technology in English lah. The Japanese and the Russians, also the newly emerging top economies like China and India, also learn and communicate science and technology in English.

      China catching up fast on computer technology but is still way behind the Americans. The Chinese also have been rushing to learn English. Read about th proliferation of English language classes in China in the last decade or so.


      • Swahili.. Urdu, why not? But what have these really contributed towards a language, that whether you like it or not has its origins in Latin and hence, as you said – science and technology. Aiyo why lah take my comment so literally bro?

        Also, nobody said anything about the Chinese not catching up etc. But hey they will still need English for others to understand them. No point you only know numbers but not able to express yourself well 🙂


    • perhaps you’ve never learnt math or science before to know that it’s not just numbers but also a number of countless theorems and formulas? hehe XD


  18. PPSMI is a subtle effort to buffer up usage of english in the school education system. It is somewhat middle approach to shore up the decline of the language.
    There is everything to gain if Malaysians can have english as a second least surfing ,astro watching and socializing will be more meaningful. Picture an english speaking person and a non english speaking person watching for eg. CNN or American Idol or Asian food channel..for Porn surfacers you do not need language.
    In the US,where everybody speaks english, there is a big debate on the quality of education in their schools.President Obama recognizes this malady and proposes changes that ran into political walls.But the US have it all. The best brains in the world will gravitate to US..Chinese ,Indians,Malays ( and the rest of the world) because they will earn multiples of what they will earn in Bolehlalnd. So even if their education system is mediocre their source of big-brained africans,asians, mid eastern or whatever is limitless.The same reason our skilled labor streamed int singapore before dawn and back to Malaysia after dusk.
    As long as our students excel in applied maths and sciences the country will benefit..i.e
    if they stay put.
    Politics and education do not mix well together. In this country we have a suruhanjaya pendidikan which looks into the services aspect of education and they have performed their job well. This commission should look into education policies too.
    PPSMI, for eg, should be under their purview. We need stability and vision/farsightedness in this area. Don’t live it to Politicians. Polilticians sell their own mothers to win think they care about our children ? They send their children to private schools in this country or export them overseas.
    If we need Malaysia to move forward then bundle education polices and hand them over to the education commission.


  19. Pretty much with you on this one JMD. Only thing that I dont comprehend is how the PIBG or school could decide for the future generations of student. PIBG represents the the parents and teachers of the said school, whom are elected year in year out. Hence, the decision makers today may not see it through. Assuming, this year PIBG says ok…teach in English. 2 years down, a different PIBG commitee comes up and says..revert back to BM. Major Flip Flop..causing a lot of uncertainty. This is where I believe that the government must put it foot down and not beat around the bush by letting the mass decide. Classic case of too many cooks spoil the broth.


  20. Dear JMD,

    It is truly wonderful that MOE have decided to review their position for the umpteenth time, we may decide to teach maths and science in sign language for all I care however it is the mind set that need to be changed from the top right down to the bottom, from the young right up to the old. If they truly value knowledge and education and this is instilled from a very young age, from the depth of the soul they will want to learn and they will do it well in whatever language it is taught. They will master the English language and whatever language just to seek the treasures of knowledge buried deep within other culture, heritage and values.

    As a parent I want to see my children and other children as well to be inquisitive, innovative with a deep hunger for knowledge and beneficial information. That is what I am hoping to see from the many policy changes that MOE have made with the many different Ministers that have passed its halls. I remain hopeful that everyone from teachers, parents, politicians, leaders start to instill this values in their own family and community at large to be hungry for knowledge and to strive to get that knowledge in whatever shape or form.

    Does it truly matter what language Maths or Science are taught? Teaching it in English may give them an edge to understand and reading books that are mainly written in English. But if they are truly hungry for knowledge, truly inquisitive, truly understand the value, they will get that knowledge anyway be it whatever language the subjects are taught. Have we truly taught our children to strive for knowledge or to just merely to chase after good grades?


  21. I have said before that single system school is politically not possible (at this moment). The closet that we could have gotten was PPSMI especially in the national schools. This had attracted more nonMalays to the national schools.

    Why do the Dong something group is against PPSMI ? What I hear (and I stand to be corrected) is that with PPSMI, the fear is that the education dept will use as excuse to send more non chinese teachers to chinese schools and eventually will be the “death” of the chinese schools. See, even they insists that BM teachers must be bilingual that is able to speak in chinese. In the 60s when we were in english medium schools, our teachers were mostly chinese and they never use a word of chinese when they teach. This was how we picked up the english language.

    Politics has very much influenced education.


  22. With the abolishment of PPSMI and to strengthen our students’ grasp of the English language, perhaps the MOE should introduce a heavy regiment of extra English classes to students, especially those in the rural areas. Don’t tell us about the lack of teachers, enlist volunteers if they must…there’ll be many rushing to have the honour..any takers?


  23. Raja Petra Kamuruddin

    To begin, Your Slogan to your blog “Source of Independent News” is but a laugh!!!! For your blog swears by The Most Lob-side news that is merely to promote you and your one-track mind

    In response to your claim that you did not accused and implicate Dato Najib and Rosmah with the killing of Altantuya;

    RPK, once and for all stop being a fake, you have been a phony all your life. You cannot be counted with the rest of your Malaysian, so you had to seek an attention seeking way out – write rubbish to get into the news.

    From your days at VI you have been troublesome. It was your father’s influence that saw to your admission at VI never on merit. Then when you became a misfit among the brighter students, you turned into a frenzied attention-seeking maniac. And you ran into trouble at every nook and corner at school.

    As an adult, your failure in life, again saw you turn into the same attention-seeking maniac. You began to hide behind the skirt of your wife to strike out al all others.

    Everyone was wrong in your eyes except the failed megalomaniac in you. The history of Malaysian was wrong, Independence of Malaysia was wrong, May 13th accounts was wrong, Tun Dr Mahathir was wrong, Abdullah Badawi was wrong and then, Dato Najib is wrong, only Raha Retra is the righ one.

    After having dragged Najib and Rosmah through the dirt now you come up that you never collaborated or character assinated by publishing degradotory article and printed false photographs of the PM.

    So you are not merely a fake and a bluff but a traitor! – A traitor is one who would abandon and ditch his sons and daughters and run away to safety to save his own neck. One who runs not wanting to fight another day but to criticize from afar! One who saves his soul to live in comfort when financed my some greedy jealous zealot.


  24. JMD,
    “That is the outcome of the opposition’s relentless pursuit to oppose anything just for the sake of opposing. I mentioned the opposition because Pakatan Rakyat leaders were involved in the various platforms conducted by the Gerakan Mansuhkan PPSMI (GMP) which incidentally headed by A. Samad Said, an iconic ‘pejuang bahasa kebangsaan’.”

    There are many issues the opposition oppose, but hard to tell if their effort were causation of the outcome in this case. Perhaps this is the wish of the rakyat and opposition just grasp on it?

    Samad Said is ‘pejuang bahasa’, I don’t know if this is same with ‘pejuang bahasa kebangsaan’. However, I am sure he knows what he is fighting for and his effort was widely acknowledged by many, therefore I don’t think it is right for you to impose you will on him and further label him as being hypocritical. What I suggest is that perhaps you may establish your own terms, criteria and requirement for one to be accorded the iconic pejuang bahasa kebangsaan, you may call it “pejuang bahasa kebangsaan when JMD say-so” in order not to mixed it up with the wish of the rest.

    “The sad fact is that many of our graduates simply can’t express their thoughts or present a logical argument no matter what language they’re speaking. And fixing this will require more than a few more hours a week in English”

    Agree, when may criticize those from Chinese school can’t speak proper English and Malay, I think to myself, what the hack, they can’t even speak proper Mandarin.

    JMD : Yes he is popularly labeled as Pejuang Bahasa Kebangsaan. The reason I found him hypocritical is in the very next paragraph you quoted above:

    Much is left to be desired when this so called pejuang bahasa kebangsaan stopped short in asking the vernacular schools to switch its medium of teaching language to Bahasa Malaysia. Hence I find it really hypocritical of him when he assumed that GMP will bring dignity to Bahasa Malaysia among Malaysians.

    If he is not fighting for BM to be the main medium of instruction in all schools here in Malaysia, then according to my opinion and views (which may not be agreeable to you and I am okay with it), he is not a through and through pejuang bahasa kebangsaan.

    Thank you.


  25. “What studies, pray tell”

    Not truly a study, just observation.

    Besides what may liang wrote, the reason is to learn mathematics and science in a language that one is most familiar. But I don’t think a particular language would help to produce great mathematician, Chinese language and mother tongue facilitate counting and arithmetic, and make it easier to learn mathematic. We still need critical thinking and innovative mind to produce great mathematician and scientist, and in this aspect, English is not the solution.

    The next question is why most mathematics principles and concept were developed by Europe and Arab (No Chinese and India? Sure?), part of the answer is to pose a question why there is not much development in this branch of knowledge in contemporary Arab. Is it because they don’t know English? We know the patents filing from East Asia country is now leading the world, do they know English? Does English helps to understand the underlying principles of mathematics? I think the issue is therefore not with language, renaissance and industrial revolution happened not because of language.

    The paradox with people like JMD is they want both identity and going global knowing that logically the two do not contradict each other, but for the sake of I don’t know what, they want to make it sound like their approach is the best way, and conflate language medium with education.

    Don’t waste time telling us this and that language, improve education is the way, if we could do that, who care what GMP and DJZ do and say?

    JMD : There is no paradox my dear Hua Yong. Identity and going global do not contradict each other. Do you know for what’s sake that I pursue BM as main medium of education in Malaysia? Unity among races. That is the big picture. Letting the children of all races come together under one roof. That is more important. For the sake of Malaysian future. PPSMI is good too no doubt. You can read it here if you have the time.

    And furthermore HuaYong, re the article you link above. PPSMI is not just about how fast someone can recite and memorise numbers. How short are the scientific terminologies in mandarin by the way? Thank you.


    • English is an international language. No Chinese language is. Mandarin may be spoken by 1.2 billion people. But mostly in China. English is spoken practically all over the world.


    • JMD, I presume your thesis work, but can we implement it phase by phase? Start with school in the city and newly establish school, national type, and if it really work, parents would definitely know. GMP and DJZ can’t say anything as parents who wish to learn M&S in mother tongue can continue to do so. I think it is more sensible to change the people perception in a progressive manner.

      My link is about mathematics and to corroborate TML comments. And I become a bit puzzle after reading your reply. May I know what PPSMI is regarding? I always thought it is about learning M&S in English and it seems I am wrong.

      On your question how short are the scientific terminologies in mandarin, I have to clarify that I don’t know if short help to understand scientific concept and how to make a comparison pertaining to “short” between a logographic and alphabetic writing system, for instance, 纳米 = nanometer, which one is shorter from the façade? If we are talking about inputting into computer, 纳米 require 5 hits compare to 9 for alphabetic, but this is not always the case. However, I have the opinion that it is much easier to create new terminology in logographic because there is much combination unlike the Romanize English which is limited to 26 alphabets


    • I think nobody says no Chinese or Indians contributed to the development of mathematics principles and concept”.

      Why there is not much development in this branch of knowledge in contemporary Arab is not because they don’t know English but because the Arabs were the next victim of the ransacking and marauding Mongols after they had conquered China and ruled it for many decades in the 13th Century. Genghis Khan and his Mongol warriors were recorded in history as the most cruel and savage among mankind in their treatment of the Chinese during their march of conquest, right through to the south of China. Entire populations of towns and villages, men women and children, were burnt and massacred the moment just one person raised a finger to oppose their onslaught.

      Ghengis’ son/ grandsons did the same to the Arabs later on. The Arab’s 500 years of glory ebbed out because of those, not because of the English language.
      Not even the renaissance and industrial revolution did it – those happened much later.

      We are not wasting time telling people that English is much better than any other language in this country as the language to help promote interest and through which to receive knowledge in science and technology. In view of that, PPSMI is necessary.


      • Hi Dot. Chinese and Indian contribution to M&S is less, and mostly are at the earlier stage of their civilisation, while Arab/Islam is relatively more mainly at the middle stage, and I would say all of them progress at low pace after 13/14 century. If we want to stereotype and make classification that I am Chinese and you are Muslim, we are equally backward as compare to Caucasian/Christian in a modern world context.

        Your history session on Arab and Mongol is pretty interesting. I didn’t read much about this part of history and I didn’t know Genghis Khan travelled that far, thanks for that. I did a bit of search and realise that Mongol learned from the Arabs on military technologies after they controlled the bulk of Eurasia, the cavalry, archery and finally the techniques to penetrate thick walls help them to conquer Song. But I think this are beside the point when we talk about M&C in English. Would you believe that Arab to learn M&C in English would help them revive their past glory? We need more than that right?

        When I say “waste time”, I mean it is no point to keep on harping language as the crucial factor, since there is a divide of idea from diverse group of people, what I suggest is to do it by stage start with urban area, select a few that is well receptive of the idea. This would help better planning and resources allocation as well.

        And sorry I didn’t reply your (I guess you are the same Dot) question in DN, after I re-read some of the comments and went through a deep contemplation, I think we are fundamentally very difference in our notion and values. Unless we are willing to transform a little from our central values, otherwise the discussion will not be fruitful in the end. However, I would say most of your viewpoints are reasonable.


    • See that tan may ling woman (?). Saying “studies upon studies”. And not answering when asked what “studies”.

      She trying to hoodwink the readers here or somfing? Until she clarifies here convincingly, she appears to want to mislead the Malaysian public. A dangerous woman.

      Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?


  26. Salam JMD,

    A good article that explains the Constitutional stance on this by UiTM Emeritus Professor of Law Shad Saleem Faruqi.

    The country’s multilingual character is safeguarded by the law. The Constitution and the laws permit tremendous linguistic diversity.

    > No person shall be prohibited or prevented from using, teaching or learning, any other language otherwise than for “official purposes”: Article 152(1).

    In line with the spirit of Article 152, the Education Act 1996 in section 2 admirably provides that the Chinese or Tamil language shall be made available if the parents of at least 15 pupils in the school so request.

    Likewise, indigenous languages, Arabic, Japanese, German or French or any other foreign languages may be made available if it is reasonable and practicable to do so.

    > Federal and state governments have the right to preserve and sustain the use and study of the languages of any other community: Article 152(1)(b).

    > Article 152(2) provides that for a period of 10 years after Merdeka and thereafter until Parliament provides, English may be used for all official purposes.

    In line with this, the National Language Act 1967 authorises the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to permit the use of English for such official purposes as may be deemed fit. Thus, national TV and radio use the whole spectrum of languages spoken in the country.

    Universiti Islam Antarabangsa, Universiti Teknologi Mara and many private universities and colleges use English as the main language. In tertiary institutions, all twinning programmes and external courses use English.

    Many continuing education programmes in government departments employ English.

    > The National Language Act all-ows the Speakers in Parliament and the State Assemblies to permit members to speak in English. Court proceedings and drafts of legislation may employ both Bahasa Malaysia and English.

    > Article 161(5) makes exceptions for use of native languages in Sabah and Sarawak.

    > Section 28 of the Education Act 1996 allows vernacular, “national type schools” to exist and section 17(1) authorises the Minister to exempt such schools or any other educational institution from use of Malay as the main medium of instruction.

    > Section 73 of the Education Act 1996 allows private schools to exist and gives them considerable autonomy.

    > The Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 permits private universities to flourish and gives them considerable autonomy.

    It is clear, therefore, that the use of languages other than BM in our universities is neither illegal nor against national policy.

    The laws require us to honour and promote the national language but to keep the windows of our mind open to the world by learning and using many foreign languages.


    • The Constitution is the Supreme Law of the land. The Education Act is anciliary law, or one that emanates from the Constituion.

      Acts can be repealed. The Constitution cannot.


  27. i’m the product of the dual medium of instruction, happens to be the last batch. my parents (my mak a full time housewife & my arwah ayah a lorry/van/taxi driver) decided to put me through english medium since i had my primary schooling in english medium as well. i managed to pass my exam & was able to pursue form6 but stopped halfway to enter teachers college. i pursued my degree after 10 yrs teaching in primary, came back from UK & till now feel that i owe it to my mother who stubbornly insisted that i must follow english medium despite the curses from our malay community about being ‘kafir’ etc. i insisted that my daughters all learn maths & science in english. 3 of them have made it in spm so far, learning maths & science without any difficulty. 1 has completed her chemical engineering, one is doing her architecture & d 3rd is doing microbiology. d 4th is going to sit for spm this year. like all her sisters, she’s having no problem learning the 2 subjects in english. the youngest is in year 2 & speaks good bm & english at the same time…i don’t see any problem with that! if the government decides to have dual medium, then i will definitely send my youngest to english medium…after all, she’s still learning maths & science in english!!!


  28. I believe in one schooling system (Sek Keb or Sek Men Keb) and that students are to master two if not four different languages (Malay, English, Mandarin and Tamil).

    And yes, there is a need for us to have an identity through Bahasa Malaysia.

    Otherwise, we’d be like Singapore…another confused state.


  29. Dear JMD,

    It’s always aspiring and motivating to read your posting. I have no respect for the so-called Pejuang Bahasa, for they allowed themselves to be taken for a ride by the Perosak Rakyat (PR). I’m all for Mermatabatkan Bahasa Melayu, but as it is now, as you pertinently said, only the Malays (even that only a segment of the Malays) who feel strongly about Mermatabatkan Bahasa Melayu. As we can see now everywhere in Malaysia, Chinese (Mandarin) has been adopted as the third language and in fact in sae places it has become a second language besides English. Penang for instance, and I believe in other Chinese majority areas, Bahasa Melayu has taken a third place or totally been eradicated. Look at the ATM machines, public notices, bill boards, sign boards in Penang Island, Mandarin has become more prominent, besides English. Where is Bahasa Melayu? Where are the Pakatan Rakyat leaders, who were with the anti-PPSMI roadshows (read demonstrations) when it comes to BM. Kepada A.Samad Said, anda diperbodohkan oleh golongan anti-Melayu yang penuh di dalam PR. Apa ada dapat sekarang? Najis mereka, bukan?

    Pada asalnya ramai golongan cendikiawan Melayu yang inginkan supaya PPSMI di lihat semula supaya, kerana matlamat untuk meningkatkan kebolehan Bahasa Inggeris dalam kalangan generasi baru dapat ditingkatkan. PPSMI tidak lihat tidak begitu efektif, namun, Pakatan Rakyat mengambil kesempatan mempolitikkan isu tersebut, dan akhirnya apa yang dapat dimegahkan oleh Pejuang Bahasa seperti A.Samad Said???


  30. Referendum is an excellent suggestion! For the sake of unity and harmony, we of course don’t mind being labeled as tyranny of the majority, after all this years, everyone knows number count right? But the weird part is how we could expect the present government that rejects the call for SSS to initiate a referendum? Akin to that midget that shout De plane, De plane. Come to think of it, why not change the government?

    I could not understand why some keep on babbling about China, either he obsess with China or he think he knows China well, however by reading his juvenile commentary, perhaps he should stick to what he do best, imagine he is more English than the Englishman.

    Btw, American went through revolution, the French and Russian went through revolution, Iran went through revolution, and almost everyone knows Jasmine Revolution, only the Brits with support of some fake Englishmen don’t went through revolution. Pity.


    • You are now mengarut, aren’t you, HuaYong?

      Talking about “tyranny of the majority” and such. And who says “the present government .. rejects the call for SSS ..”? Didn’t you read people saying Najib has said “single-stream education will be implemented when the rakyat wants it”? Where were you when the SSS was raised in Parliament and Najib said so. And he wrote so in his 1Malaysia blog.

      And of course I can’t expect you to understand why conditions in China are referred to when arguing matters that the Chinese don’t agree with in this country. Like wanting Mandarin be the medium instruction in Chinese schools when last year in south China, including Hong Kong, they held demonstrations against the Beijing authorities wanting to enforce the use of Mandarin in everyday life. Sure, you won’t have read those either and don’t understand why people mention such news when talking about SSS. What skewed mentality.

      Re your last para, no mention of China’s Revolutions? Or merely implied them? First, revolution to become communist. Then so-called Cultural Revolution Mao Zedong invented in his desperation to hang on to power after the failed economic programme called The Great Leap Forward which, with the chaos and disorder during the “Cultural Revolution” led to about 30 million Chinese dead.

      “Blabbing” about China again? Of course I can’t expect you to understand that people try to relate the thinking of the ultra kiasu among you Chinese with the events occurring in China. Comprendo? So that readers might find it easier to understand people like you. You are the only one who accuses such as “juvenile commentary”. What an utterly warped and small mind you have.

      After all, you all came from south China. Secret societies, thugs and gangsters also came from south China. So, when talking about the Selangor DAP Exco Ronnie Liu banging MACC and Klang Hospital mortuary doors, like thugs and gangsters do, people may relate that to the institution that originated from China. People might understand it easier and better such a behaviour in a Yang Berhormat who is not quite berhormat.


  31. this is like a slap onthe face for muhyideen, who said there will be no more discussion and revert back to bm is final. this government seldom decide based on wisdom.
    the education department is nothing more than a cash cow for the select few, like interlok author and dewan bahasa. they have to allow other publishers to commit and compete with dewan bahasa.
    by reverting to ppsmi, the sekolah kebangsaan will again attract the rakyat of various races back, and the demise of various vernacular and religious schools.
    plus many extra votes for bn in the urban areas from the 20% of the population of various races who uses english as their mother tongue. this group formed the majority who migrated overseas as they have been neglected and does not have a voice in parliament.


  32. one said it is for the English proficiency, the other said – why not focusing on English subject rather than teach Math and Science in English?

    one said it is much much easier to learn math and science in mother tongue, the other said resources of math and science for higher level mainly exist in English medium.

    one said it is for national unity in the long run, the other said it is only a political move.

    hard to get a solution if there are many issues in one subject. focus.


  33. Pingback: The aftermath of PPSMI policy « Kempen SSS

  34. Pingback: Kabhi Malay, Kabhi English: A History of Language In Malaysia’s Education System | TRP

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