Sarawak Chief Minister is ahead of us

Sarawak Chief Minister YAB Adenan Satem is ahead of us in making English a second language. He has shown enlightened leadership of a high order and demonstrated dedication and devotion to all Sarawakians. He has indicated his wisdom in promoting the use of the English language in Sarawak at official and popular levels. This will propel progress in Sarawak on a sustained basis.

We in peninsula Malaysia need to follow Sarawak’s great example or we will lag behind and remain in the middle income trap for a much longer time. In the meantime our people’s progress, especially amongst the poor and the Bottom 40 percent will improve if at all , but at a much slower pace. However, the rich and higher income groups will send their children to English medium schools and universities and advance rapidly, while their poorer brothers and sisters will be deprived of a good English education – and left behind in the poverty and low income at Group or the Bottom 40 percent.

The government should therefore follow Sarawak and recognise the English language as a second official language. Only then will the English language be seriously taught and learnt. Otherwise, only lip service will be paid in practice and we will lose out to Sarawak and others, who are more pragmatic and apparently more caring for the future of our posterity.

The lack of English proficiency will make our rich get richer and our poor get poorer. Is this what we want in our beloved country? Is that going to be our legacy for our posterity, and especially the poor, who are mostly Malays?

Let them not express their frustration at their neglect when they find they cannot compete because of poor proficiency in English and become unemployed, under-employed or even stuck in the mud, in the continuing rat race of globalisation.

We owe our poor people a better deal.

Sarawak, and maybe Sabah and some other states will move faster ahead and progress further, while many others will regress.

That will be most unfortunate indeed.

Article published in Malaysiakini.

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