Fluency in national language remains a hot topic on social media

THE issue of national language proficiency among Malaysians rumbles on. This sensitive issue has become a political hot potato with vernacular education at the crux of the matter.

Needless to say, this issue has been hotly debated, especially on social media. This was very evident when a Facebook post by Lo Cha Yong was shared on an education forum eliciting many opinions.

The original poster had said it was imperative that Malaysians have a firm grasp of the national language. Although he received a vernacular education, Lo said he was lucky to have a parent who prioritised learning Malay.

He credited his former civil servant father for ensuring that he grew up fluent in Malay. The fact that the senior Lo was of Baba heritage meant that Malay was commonly used in the household.

In his post, Lo asked for greater understanding for older folks who are not conversant in Malay as they possibly lacked the opportunities to learn it. He was referring to an incident where an older citizen had apparently reacted badly when asked to fill in some forms in Malay.

He also stated, “Chinese language is gaining traction. Mandarin can co-exist with Malay language in Malaysia. More Malays are learning Mandarin as well, 60 years of independence. I believe we need to strengthen Malay, at the same time there is no harm in strengthening Mandarin.”

The post shared on Malaysia Education Info (Homeschooling too) Facebook forum elicited many varied responses.

Here is a sample:

However, the above opinion was quickly met with others asking for people to properly understand why such a mindset exists.

Some suggested greater integration is required for Malaysians to pick up the language.

Some simply said there was no two ways about it. There is simply no excuse for Malaysians to not know their national language, especially when foreigners are able to pick up the language quickly.

Given the discussion was in an education forum, here were those who questioned if the education system was at fault.

Quite a few netizens also noted the importance of learning additional languages as it is beneficial in the long run.

One poster may have hit the nail on the head when she said that love for the language was imperative.

Give how this issue has been hotly debated, it is quite certain that it is not going to die down anytime soon.

But rather than letting it become a divisive tool used by certain politicians to further divide Malaysians, proper and mature discussions on how to overcome this issue are very much needed.

This means tackling the mindset of students as well as taking an in-depth look at the education system itself and how it can be improved to alleviate the poor command of the national language among Malaysians.

There is much to be said about a language being the glue that holds society together. As seen by the many posts on the subject, the Malaysian society is being pulled apart at the seams.

Some deep reflection on the root causes of this highly divisive issue must be done. Otherwise any proffered solutions may just be knee-jerk reactions or be counter-productive. – Dec 27, 2023

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