Hadi Awang’s take on English is a move backwards – MP

KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 – There is no need to curtail or discourage the use of other languages in the efforts to promote the use of the national language, says Member of Parliament for Kuching, Dr. Kelvin Yii.

Describing PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang’s statement that those pushing for English were stuck in a colonial mindset as lacking in foresight, Dr.Yii said it also exposed “how irrelevant PAS is in our modern world”.

Such a view is also dangerous as it will not only further erode the country’s competitive edge in the international market, but also bring the people backwards and leave them behind compared with other countries in the region, said Dr Yii, who is also DAP’s Socialist Youth (Dapsy) chief.

“There is no question on the importance of us all mastering and promoting the importance of our national language.

“However, those that do not encourage the mastery of multiple languages on top of our national language especially when English is used as international language of business, commerce, science, medicine, diplomacy and many other key areas are those stuck in the old-age, and should not be allowed to hold positions that influences policies of the nation.”

Often, such leaders express narrow views, including on the national language, mainly to cover up their own inadequacy in the matter, or to distract the people from real matters affecting the people.

“The sentiments used to justify their arguments are often flawed and not taking into account recent developments in those countries itself. One example is how they often use Japan as a modern country without the need to “master English”.

However, the fact is many major Japanese companies and the government of Japan have made huge strides to promote the use of English in their daily business, he said.

Car-maker giants Honda followed Nissan’s move to adopt English in 2013 and since 2020, Honda executives cannot be promoted unless they pass an English competency test.

In 2016, Mitsubishi Motors also adopted English, partly because it had become part of the expanded Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Motors Alliance.

Similarly, tyre manufacturer Bridgestone also adopted English in 2013, the same year as Honda.

Several big name Japanese companies outside the manufacturing sector have also adopted English as their main working language, including stock trading platform Rakuten, as well fashion retailer Uniqlo.

Hence, it is a huge concern that in Malaysia instead of diversifying and encouraging a greater mastery of multiple languages, the leaders “seem to be going backwards,” Dr Yii said.

“Our leaders must realise that we live in a competitive, volatile, globalized era, where cross-border partnerships are essential for survival, which also implies the need for multi-cultural awareness.

“The ability to speak multiple languages has always been Malaysia’s strength especially for us to remain competitive in the global market.”

— WE