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National Security 101: Learning English in Malaysia: Why They Are Here?


(We have no problem with foreign students but can we take a closer look on what they are coming here for dubious studies like Foundation in English? Image source:

I was flying back to Malaysia couple days ago…

When I got into the plane for the long journey ahead, I noted that the flight was almost full. I made my way towards the middle of the plane, only to find an African (aged mid 20s) seating on my seat. I pointed my boarding pass to him but he looked reluctant to move.

Noticing the empty seat next to him (which was my preferred seat but I arrived too late to reserve it), I asked about the seat and upon confirming that it was his seat (and nothing spilled on it), I gladly took over his seat and allowed him to remain on my seat.

The flight was pleasant except for occasional turbulence. Almost reaching the Straits of Malacca, I noticed my African neighbour took out his passport and other documents to fill up the Malaysian Immigration form. I immediately noticed that the neighbour was from Nigeria and he was flying to Malaysia for studies.

My neighbour took out two documents – a supporting letter from a local college (I tried to check but I could not get the details of this college – it is not one of the more famous private colleges) and another, an official looking document from the Malaysian Government which makes reference to the letter from the local college (perhaps to facilitate the visa application).

But what I saw next left me shocked – the type of studies he is going to take up in Malaysia – Foundation in English!!

What the…! You mean to say that some English speaking African flew thousands of miles, changed plane after several hours in transit, and flew another thousands of miles, all the way to Malaysia just to get a Certificate in Foundation in English?

Isn’t that sounds strange? Isn’t the official language in Nigeria is…err…English? I am pretty sure that the foundation in English would be laid when Nigerians are still in their primary schools. Or am I missing something here? Perhaps someone can enlighten me on this.

So why Malaysia when he can just hop over to Ghana and get the same foundation in English for much lower price and nearer to home? And the fact that the Ghanaians (or Africans in general) speak better English than ordinary Malaysians makes it an even viable choice for students wanting to get foundation in English.

Why not the UK – the source of the language? If they have come over to Malaysia to learn some advance mechanical engineering or space age technology, I would have understood. If they have come over to Malaysia to learn on political studies (plenty of examples here) or the usual business studies, I would have understood.

If they have come over to Malaysia to learn advance English, I would have understood that too. But they are not – it was nothing but a foundation in English, so why they are here? Malaysia is already having plenty of problems with the language in the education system.

Perhaps the “quality” of English is better here or perhaps the learning environment is more conducive here. Perhaps I should give the benefit of the doubt. But what is the guarantee that these students do not come in to Malaysia and then disappear to do something more sinister?

Will we be making the relevant checking on whether these students do nothing but study on the subject that was submitted for visa application and go back as scheduled?

I wonder whether the immigration department smelled something fishy when they saw the subject that this Nigerian wants to take up. It is like me flying all the way to the US to study Bahasa Malaysia – it does not make sense.

I am pretty sure the US immigration would have sounded the alarm and vetted me in and out. No doubt we want to turn Malaysia as a centre of learning for foreign students but there must be some rules.

If we start to take in any Tom, Dick and Harry, we may end up screwing the education system in Malaysia even more.

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11 thoughts on “National Security 101: Learning English in Malaysia: Why They Are Here?”

  1. strange! I just hope that he does that power English course and not end up converting white notes to money or selling rolek in food courts. Who filters these “students” or have we become dumping grounds willing to take anything that comes our way?

    1. Abi – same thought ran in my mind when I saw the course stated on the document – have we became the dumping ground for anything that comes our way

  2. Many of them are not here to study but to create nuisance and crimes especially those who are registered for ‘strange’ courses at some unknown private university or college here. That ‘official looking document from the Malaysian government’ you saw may just be a fake.

    Some of these people are here as touts for the many who claim to be ‘former kings, queens, princes, princesses, former general, head of state, or son or daughters of former generals or head of states, etc.’ to collect money from those gullible Malaysians who believe in their sob-sob stories offering a share of the billions or billions of US$ that they have smuggled out of their countries. Some are just here to commit crimes.

    Best regards.


    1. It was certainly strange – I wonder whether our people at the immigration points is thinking outside the box for obvious leads instead of blindly allowing such people into the country.

  3. Maybe the Foundation In English is a required course module for him to further pursue the desired degree in M’sia. If he doesn’t pass, then ideally he should be on the plane home. If he passes, then he can continue with the main degree.
    In the end, who know? lol

  4. If you ask the Immigration people, they will tell you that they are short-handed and got no time to check on those. And, if you wish to make a report about this matter, you will be asked for solid evidence and many other things that make reporting very complicated and difficult. Furthermore, your security and safety are not assured. So, what do people like you and me do next? We’ll just leave it as they are, what else can we do?

    Best regards.


  5. There are large numbers of Middle Eastern students taking IELTS at The British Council since it is harder to get in on a course in their own countries. Maybe that’s the case for him too.

    (I guess you wouldn’t worry so much about those being bogus – there’s so much built in prejudice against Africans in this country.)

    1. Bibliobibuli – I have been to the Middle East and I have been to Africa.

      And I know the “quality” of English in the Middle East – it is not a big surprise to see the whole lot of them in Malaysia (fellow Islamic country who have a better English level than them).

      Africa, namely Nigeria is a different story though. But as Kris mentioned, if he does not pass the foundation, he should be heading back home. Anyway, I am not worried about this as long as the “student” do not end up as another stats in the country.


    200 cheated of RM10mil by Africans claiming to be college boys

    KUALA LUMPUR: At least 200 people in the city have been conned of nearly RM10mil since early last year by Africans who entered the country on student visas, but never once stepped into a classroom.

    Although these so-called “students” are enrolled in top colleges under fake scholarships, they are more often spotted cruising in flashy cars and frequenting nightspots.

    These Africans are believed to be conmen who plied their shady trade overseas before dumping their ill-gotten gains in local banks and “settling down” here.

    However, once here, they continue their activities by duping Malaysians of their life savings, using bank accounts of locals to cheat their victims, who are mostly single successful women, either divorced or widowed.

    Among the most common scams are tricking Malaysians into paying for non-existent gifts, buying coloured water as “vaccines” to keep cattle healthy and disease-free, and “black money” cases.

    City Commercial Crime Investigation Department chief Asst Comm Izany Abdul Ghany, who revealed this, said it was alarming that despite numerous warnings, Malay­sians continued to fall into the conmen’s trap.

    He said scams operated by Africans topped the list of commercial crime cases in the city, reeling in the largest amount of ill-gotten money.

    “The numbers are rising. Between January last year and June, locals in the city alone were cheated of nearly RM10mil, and the figure could be higher because some victims are still unaware that they are being conned. “The scams are committed throughout the country but the exchange of money usually takes place in the city,” ACP Izany said, adding that over 100 women and 80 men were conned since early last year.

    ACP Izany said checks showed that these Africans had committed similar scams in other countries before coming to Malaysia.

    “After these syndicates are busted, they enter Malaysia by using fake scholarships apparently given by their country of origin.

    “Once here, most of them never even step into the classroom as they are too busy cheating our people,” he said.

    ACP Izany said many of the women conned would freely give up their money after being swept off their feet by Africans who lured them with sweet talk and promises.

    “The conmen target single women in their 30s and 40s. The victims include doctors and university lecturers,” he said, urging higher learning institutions and relevant agencies to scrutinise carefully the applications of foreign students.

    Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department’s Cyber and Multimedia Investigation Division assistant director ACP Mohd Kamarudin Md Din said in some cases, the victims had met the conmen through social networking websites. They would usually post pictures of other people, sometimes of famous models, just to get closer to the victims.

    “By using pictures of other people, these conmen are already committing an offence of identity theft,” he said, adding that despite repeated warnings about people using false identities on the Internet, Malaysians were still being duped.

    Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin said there was a “small number” of foreign students involved in crime here, most of whom had entered the country illegally.

    He urged the police to provide the ministry with relevant information so that appropriate action could be taken.

  7. I think most of your judgements are biased and prejudiced against the Africans or anything black. If you can provide me with your full details, i can dig out your own crime report and place it on your face. Never the less, your immigration should beef up security checks on all immigrants not only the blacks.

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