KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad defended the use of English to teach Science and Mathematics, saying it is necessary to ensure Malaysia can keep up with the rest of the world.
The former prime minister said the policy's detractors were misguided as they failed to see the point of the policy that he initiated six years ago.Reflecting on Islam's golden age, he pointed out that the Arabs at the time learned Greek so they could understand and preserve the knowledge of the Greek civilisation.
"Likewise, the Europeans learned Arabic so they could gain the knowledge of the Arabs," he said at a press conference announcing the opening of the Sultan Abdul Hamid Old Collegians' Association building here. "English is the lingua franca, whether we like or not. If you meet a Korean, can you speak to that person in Malay?"
Dr Mahathir said science, for example, was a "very peculiar subject" that does not remain static."To get someone to translate hundreds of transcripts a day is just physically impossible."It would be better to arm people with the language so they can get the information themselves. We want Malay-sians to be knowledgeable, not just good in speaking Malay."
Dr Mahathir took a swipe at the non-governmental organisations and politicians who led the demonstration to protest the policy last week, saying they had forgotten that they too had benefited from learning in English."These people who are protesting were all English educated ... its like they don't want to see others rise to their level."For myself, despite having studied in English all the way I am still a Malay, still a Malay nationalist."
On the RM60 billion stimulus package unveiled on Tuesday, Mahathir urged the government to study the country's economic situation from top to bottom to find out which areas needed help.While he agreed with the package's quantum, he said the government must be prudent in spending the money as it would not solve Malaysia's woes caused by the global financial crisis."I hope the government has studied each sector. "It needs to sit and talk to every sector and understand their needs, be it banks, corporate entities, hawkers or the construction sector."
Source: NST (March 14, 2009)