Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 30th of March, 2015
I was shocked when I read the news two days ago where our Deputy Minister of Education, P Kamalanathan was reported to have said that the standard of English in Malaysia is higher than Singapore by referring to a report compiled by a Swedish based company, EF Education First.
I would like to draw the Deputy Minister’s attention to a few recent stark reminders of the poor standard of English in Malaysia.
Exhibit 1 below is from the Prime Minister’s Office Photo Gallery describing Prime Minister Najib and his wife paying their respects to the late Lee Kuan Yew at the Singapore parliament. The following is the text:
“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor present to pay their last respects to the late first Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, who had died in Parliament today. Also seen the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong (right). Funeral service will be held at 2pm, Sunday, at the University Cultural Center, National University of Singapore, followed by cremation a Mandal Crematorium closed.”
This is the original text. It has since been edited after numerous complaints from netizens. But some errors still remain.
Exhibit One: PM Pays Last Respect to Lee Kuan Yew, who had died in parliament today
Exhibit Two below is also from the PM Office’s Photo Gallery describing the PM signing the condolence book for Lee Kuan Yew at the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. The following is the text:
“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak signed a book of condolences for the death of the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, at the Singapore Embassy, today. Also seen is the Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia, Vanu Gopala Menon. Kuan Yew died at 3:18am yesterday at the Singapore General Hospital after being detained in hospital since February 5 for pneumonia severe. He was 91 years old”
This post has not been edited. I leave it up to the Deputy Education Minister to identify the grammatical errors.
Exhibit Two: PM signs condolence book dedicated to Lee Kuan Yew
Exhibit three below was taken at an MCA event with MCA President, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
The banner in English reads:
“For our secular democratic constitution, we strong defends”
Again, I leave it up to the Deputy Education Minister to identify the grammatical error.
Exhibit Three: For our secular democratic constitution, we strongly defends
Exhibit Four below is a picture which has gone viral since early March. It is a picture of a Medical Certificate (or MC) where the child is diagnosed as having “Chicken Chop”. The doctor in question probably diagnosed the child as having Chicken Pox but I cannot say for sure. The child may have accidentally swallowed an entire chicken chop and had to be sent home as a result.
Exhibit Four: Diagnosis of “Chicken Chop” in a Medical Certificate
I do not believe that the examples above are isolated incidents. The first two pictures featured exhibits from none other than the Prime Minister’s Office, which is on display for the entire nation and the world. The third picture featured a photo taken at an MCA event featuring its president. The fourth exhibit featured an MC signed by a doctor or general practitioner (GP). If we cannot expect to have a decent standard of English displayed by these three groups of people, what more the larger population in Malaysia?
I would advise the Deputy Education Minister to focus on the task at hand which is to improve the standard of English among our English teachers, to slowly increase the level of difficulty of our English exams and to stop making inaccurate comparisons in order to give a false impression of the problem at hand.