Gee: Govt should encourage languages which are useful and expedient

Gee: Govt should encourage languages which are useful and expedient

KOTA KINABALU, August 6, 2019: If the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is really serious about making Malaysians more competitive in the global market, it should encourage them to study languages which are truly useful and expedient in the current global context, said Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) vice president Gee Tian Siong.

“As a responsible government, Pakatan Harapan should be more mindful of the current global trend when introducing something new in our education system, so as not to foolishly lead the entire nation into oblivion and economic doldrums.

“With China’s rapid and steady rise as a global economic powerhouse, Chinese language has undeniably become increasingly popular and important. Hence, it is only appropriate that the Pakatan Harapan government give better emphasis to the teaching and learning of Chinese language in public schools, so as to boost competitive edge of Malaysians in the global market. It is a well-known fact that many non-Chinese parents are enrolling their children in the Chinese schools as they too recognize the importance of the Chinese language in the current global context,” he said.

He cited the case of Sabah for example, where signboards bearing Chinese and Korean languages are a common sight in public places. This is mainly due to the presence of large number of Chinese and Korean tourists in the state, hence making it necessary for some of the business operators to use these two languages.

“Although the Korean language is currently not included in the school syllabus, yet many people are taking the initiative to learn it due to its intrinsic economic value.  As for the Chinese language, it had long existed in our education system, hence it naturally comes in handy to the Chinese business community,” he said. 

He said this while commenting on the Education Ministry’s recent controversial move to introduce Jawi calligraphy in all schools including national-type Chinese schools (SJKC) and national-type Tamil National Schools (SJKT) starting next year.

He went on to note that although Jawi writing was once widely-used in Sabah in the 15th century when Sabah was part of Brunei’s colony, its importance eventually diminished after the Second World War and was mainly confined to the writing and studying of religious scriptures.

Gee contended that even if the government is keen to introduce Jawi calligraphy in public schools, it should be an optional and not a compulsory subject.

“Of course, unless the government is seriously thinking of making it compulsory for official and commercial use, nationwide. Otherwise, it would be a waste of time and resources.

“Furthermore, our students may not be able to cope with so many subjects. It’s better to improve the standard of Bahasa Malaysia but don’t burden students with another subject which is a different style of writing,” he said.

He also took a hard swipe at Democratic Action Party (DAP) leaders for coming up with some lame and ridiculous excuses to defend and to justify the controversial move such as, “learning Jawi calligraphy is not betraying one’s race and culture”, “there’s similarity between Jawi and Chinese calligraphy, as both are using the calligraphy brush to write”, and even described Jawi calligraphy as “an interesting subject that promotes unity among the people”.

He especially lambasted the DAP deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching for having the audacity of sugarcoating the controversial move by describing it as a merely a move to introduce a ‘fun-and-interesting subject’.

Gee also finds DAP assistant minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datuk Jimmy Wong’s remark that “there should be no fuss about learning Jawi calligraphy as, it’s good to learn an additional language”, laughable.  

“DAP should perhaps take the lead to state the ingredients of the moon cakes on the packaging, to write lantern riddles, and to tell the story of Change in Jawi when hosting the Mooncake Festival celebration, besides writing the Chinese couplets in Jawi during the Chinese New Year celebration,” he quipped.

He reiterated that, instead of struggling to defend and to justify the controversial move of introducing Jawi writing in vernacular schools, DAP leaders should strive to push for the PH government to honour its election promise of recognising the Unified Exam Certificate (UEC) for the Chinese independent schools in the country, which it made in the last general election.