PETALING JAYA, Nov 30 – The government should be firm in finalising decisions related to policy changes in the education system, including on the issue of languages in schools, said Socio-cultural advisor to the government, Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim. He said changes in policy cannot simply be made from time to time as it was feared such action could lead to confusion in the community.
“It is time for the government to act firmly, whether to continue with the old policy or adopt a new policy. We should not be making changes according to the tide. On language, it should not be a topsy turvy decision..to me it is simple, the language of education and knowledge ought to be Malay and English,” he said.
“The medium of communication is the national language, the commercial languages are Malay and English,” he said after launching a book titled “On Bonsai, Banyan and the Tao” authored by former Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo at Sin Chew Daily’s auditorium here Saturday.
Rais was commenting on calls by two million activists from 34 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country urging for the postponement or cancellation of the dual-language programme (DLP) which is to be implemented in the school system starting January next year.
Under the programme, schools are given the option to teach Science, Mathematics, Information Technology and Communication, as well as Design and Technology in English or Bahasa Malaysia. Rais was of the opinion that there should not be a change in policy just because most people were English-speaking.
“Let us not forget Article 152 of our Constitution, we must not forget the role of the Malay Rulers and we cannot simply say that English Language should be given priority without mentioning the national language,” he said while welcoming a suspension of the DLP.
On the book, Rais said the book dealt with Malaysia-Singapore relations including the Batu Putih case. The International Court of Justice ruled that the islet claimed by both countries belonged to Singapore. He added that he was then Malaysia’s Foreign Minister and Yeo and he had their specific roles advising their respective governments on various incidents and these events are narrated in this book.