Sunday, August 28, 2011
Bahasa Malaysia (Dengan izin...)
BAHASA MALAYSIA IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING MALAYSIAN EINSTEINS
Selasa, 10 November 2009
The recent decision to abandon PPSMI (the teaching and learning of Mathematics and Science in the English language) was not made solely on rural school children’s poor performance in it. There were more fundamental and consequential reasons to abort it.
To begin with, PPSMI was a hijack, illegally seizing control from Bahasa Malaysia, the national and official language of the country, for the English language to be a hasty authoritative medium in the national school system. PPSMI should have been thoroughly deliberated before its implementation in 2003, as it was cautiously argued and rationally debated in 2008 and 2009, in the greatest interest of the nation and its peoples, to have it terminated.
A decision has been made, though a political one since it needs brilliant political will with clear national directions, for the present leadership to embark on a more definitive course of nation building. The reversion was mainly based on both educational concerns and national aspirations. It was a difficult one for the country’s leadership to make, but it was nevertheless contrived for the good of the nation, as far as both nationalism and nationism are concerned.
For those quarters who are seeking political and other support to re-instate PPSMI for the very reason that KL city school children who have been doing well in PPSMI, and those who are capable of doing so in other towns, assert that these children should not be deprived of their linguistic right to acquire knowledge, be it scientific or otherwise, in the international English language. For other children in rural areas, as they argue, have or are given the linguistic right to have knowledge transmitted through their mother tongues by the PPSMI reversion.
In Malaysia, Mandarin and Tamil are mother tongues or to be more exact vernaculars. Bahasa Melayu/Malaysia, though the ethnic and ancestral language of the Malays, the dominant and majority group in the country, should not at any time be equated as a mother tongue or a vernacular in the national context. In Malaysia, Bahasa Melayu/Malaysia is first and foremost the national and official language. Period.
As the national language, it is the language of the peoples of Malaysia. It serves the entire nation and its nationalities from all walks of life, and not only the Malay or bumiputra/peribumi ethnicity. As the language of a political, social and cultural entity called Malaysia, Bahasa Malaysia also functions as a national symbol. In this respect, more importantly, it is recognized as the country’s very own indigenous language. It can aspire a sense of belonging amongst the peoples and in this regard, Bahasa Malaysia can be a unifying factor to collaborate the Malaysian peoples, as it is the language of the all Malaysians.
On this note alone, Bahasa Malaysia is not only more than legitimate, but the most rightful and trustworthy choice to be the main and sole medium of instruction in the national education system for all levels, notably for nation-building in search of a better defined national linguistic identity.
As an official language, Bahasa Malaysia should be regarded as language for the Malaysian peoples to achieve success, be it wealth, fame and social status. In fact, it is the language that is functionally important for Malaysia as a nation to operate first nationally, and then internationally. On the international stage, Malaysia should be portraying its indigenous Bahasa Malaysia, a language with primodial sentiments representing her peoples, Malays and non-Malays alike.
As a language for Malaysians to attain pragmatic success, Bahasa Malaysia has a linguistic capital which is more than adequate to help them acquire and transmit knowledge. It has an efficient corpus of a serviceable spelling system, two impressive Rumi and Jawi writing scripts, an ever-growing vocabulary, a huge and pragmatic repository of terminologies and a soundly standardized grammar.
Bahasa Malaysia has all it takes to be a modern language in the linguistic terminology, a language for scholars and intellects to argue differing viewpoints and approaches as well as to profess their theories.
Bahasa Malaysia has never been accorded such respect ever since it was officially chosen and recognized by the government, as both a symbolic and functional language when Malaysia achieved her independence in 1957. For all these years, it has been entangled profoundly in various sociological issues, created by our very own Malaysian citizenry, at times by some of its very own native speakers.
It is high time Bahasa Malaysia be conferred with the highest linguistic honour all Malaysians can bestow on it. Stop blaming this adored language concorted to unite us all in this blessed land. It has never been a cause for our children’s poor command of the English language, a barrier to impede our children’s progress in this era which greatly epitomizes the English language, and an opposing factor to our linguistic right to have our children’s education in the English language.
Let us have faith in Bahasa Malaysia to facilitate our children and the future generations to grasp scientific fundamentals as well as other scholastic endeavours. In actuality, there are no inherent flaws with Bahasa Malaysia in the academic sphere and other domains. It is a perfect linguistic system as other major world languages are. It can facilitate modern communication as effectively as the English language and others.
With the newly initiated and soon to be effectively implemented MBM-MBI mission (Misi Memartabatkan Bahasa Malaysia, Memantapkan Bahasa Inggeris), a reverent and glorified national language alongside a powerful and admirable English language amongst Malaysians, is certainly achievable. All Malaysians, especially the older generations, should give their fullest support and honest commitment to make this national mission a dream come true.
In actual fact with such a good balance of linguistic competence between Bahasa Malaysia and the English language, we do not need any translation of anything from the English language anymore. Our children and their children can readily understand whatever materials written in it. It is always delightful to read and comprehend writings in their original form. This is because there is always loss of information in translation no matter how excellently and vigilantly it has been done.
Translation is for societies that are totally illiterate in certain languages. Malaysians, even at the present time, with a much politicized portrayal of poor English language command, are by any standard, better English language speakers than some other nationalities.
Comprehending in the English language before it is to be articulated in our national language, is a consolidating and reinforcing pedagogical process. Re-stating, elaborating and refining in Bahasa Malaysia, through its various registers and discourse patterns, is our very own epistemology.
Educating one’s citizenry in one very own national and official language, is commonplace even in this modern time. Many Einsteins have emerged in societies and nations speaking their very own language. The English language is not God-made to produce Einsteins from the Malaysian stock or any other breed.
Language is only an instrument in the whole gamut of human civilization. Though, it is important, there are numerous other crucial considerations for human social development to attain an advanced level, and national aspiration is one of them.
It is depressing to read writings by Bahasa Melayu native speakers about their dissenting attitudes towards their very own mother tongue, which has been ascended as the national and official language of their very own homeland. It is certainly an explicit note that is most regrettable. It can cause much ado to non-Malay Malaysians to continue aspiring Bahasa Malaysia.
Prof. Dr. Teo Kok Seong
Professor of Malay Sociolinguistics
Institute of the Malay World and Civilization (ATMA)
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia