BATU PAHAT, Sept 11 — Proficiency in English was the key that kick-started the successful career of Berjaya Group of Companies founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan. Sharing his experience, the Malaysian billionaire and philanthropist said it was his proficiency in the language that helped him acquire the McDonald’s franchise in Malaysia when he was then only 28 years old. “I can honestly say this would not have been possible if not for my proficiency in English that allowed me to convince the people at McDonald’s that I was the right person to help introduce and grow McDonald’s in Malaysia,” he said to some 70 students from his alma mater Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tinggi Batu Pahat, here, today.
Addressing the importance of mastering the English language, he said “this is a must for students if they want to pursue a career in the corporate world”. Tan, who is also the owner of English football club Cardiff City, praised the government’s efforts in promoting English language usage, which he said had declined considerably among students today. After stepping down from the corporate ladder in 2012, Tan has been busily promoting and raising awareness nationwide on the importance of acquiring English proficiency. “I am proud to be working with non-profit organisation SOLS 24/7 to establish community centres across the country to teach English for free to those who desire to learn but unable to do so due to financial and other reasons,” he said.
To date, 48 centres are now in operation nationwide, including five in Johor, namely Sungai Suloh in Batu Pahat, Simpang Renggam, Sembrong, Chaah in Segamat, and Taman Sri Lambak in Kluang. So far, Tan has donated RM5 million per annum to help finance these centres. Nonetheless, Tan said, students should proudly use Bahasa Malaysia as their sign of love for the country. Tan was speaking at the Majlis Jalinan Kasih of the Batu Pahat school. Also present was Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, who is an alumni of the school. — Bernama