Malaysia 101: Making of United, Strong Bangsa Malaysia

malaysia bangsa national

(Bangsa Malaysia also means a nation of people who speak in one voice. Whilst we are so against racism in Malaysia, obviously, we are not angels ourselves and thus the need for one united people is even critical now. Image source: Mob’s Crib)

Whilst we are so against racism in Malaysia, obviously, we are not angels ourselves

OutSyed the Box rightfully nailed the point with this:-

The time has also come where we must seriously consider merging the school system into just one school system i.e. based on Bahasa Malaysia and English only. We need to abolish the Chinese and Tamil language school system. The Chinese and Tamil language heroes say that if Chinese and Tamil schools are abolished, their language and culture will also disappear. Wrong.

There are 1.5 billion Chinese in China who will make sure that the Chinese language, culture and the Chinese people will never disappear from the face of the earth. The same argument applies for the 1.0 billion Indians in India. This however is Malaysia. It is not and cannot be China or India.

When Chinese, Indians and anyone else migrate to Australia they learn to speak English in a jiffy. No one asks for Tamil or Mandarin to be made national languages in Australia. No one sings the Waltzing Matilda in Tamil or Mandarin in Australia.

The same logic applies to Malaysia. It is high time non Malays in Malaysia learn to speak Malay like a native Malay. Getting straight As for Bahasa Malaysia in the SPM does not mean anything if you still say ‘saya api kereta naik mari’ or ‘saya naik keleta api mali sini.”

It is not cute anymore. Actually it is quite embarrassing. Please lets speak the language the way it should be spoken.

Let put aside the fact that most of us get very nervous in police stations and even well prepared linguistic experts may fumble with Bahasa when confronted with a stern-looking policeman and after becoming a victim of a crime (in this case a snatch thief victim). Let’s look at the mastery of language by ordinary Malays and non-Malays alike.

This is something I too pondered on in my post titled “Bangsa Malaysia, Bahasa Malaysia”:-

That’s right – how many of us can speak the national language rather fluently? If we can’t speak with one voice, how then we are expected to be living united as one Bangsa Malaysia? I have high regards to the national language which itself is a strong fusion of many languages – Sanskrit, Mandarin, English and more.

After 53 years of gaining independence, if we are unable to speak the national language and the globally wide used language, English fluently – we can’t do anything but to put down our head and walk away ashamed.

It is an irony that whilst many of us talk about creating a united country, we are not willing to speak in one language. It does not harm preserving our forefather’s language but it should not be at the expense of Bahasa Malaysia and English. My grandma who is in her late 80’s speaks fluent Bahasa Malaysia and over the years, picked up English (courtesy of her great-grandchildren who speak English and not Tamil as the main language in the house).

To the credit of the non-Malays, things are also changing (thanks to education and closer interaction with other Malaysians). A long time ago, we used to use words like “gua” (me) and “lu” (you) whenever we speak the national language but things have changed. We use the proper “saya” and “awak” these days.

How fluent we are in speaking and writing a particular language is all depends on the environment that we are. We are all in the same country and on daily basis, we have to speak, read and write in the national language one way or another, so to say that we did not have the chance to learn is a wasteful excuse. The same goes for learning other main languages – English.

I started schooling in national school – so at a very young age, I was fortunate to be exposed to both Bahasa Malaysia and English (still recall how our Standard 1 teacher, the very strict Mrs Bala used to get us to shout the basic pronunciations in Bahasa at the very top of our voice).

The use of Tamil language was more confined to home, which explains why I am quite weak in writing and reading Tamil (my parents put more focus on Bahasa and English as well). And when I had no place in the local university and had to study in a private college, I had to go full force on mastering English – it was THE language of Law.

And when I started work, I was in an environment where the national language was the primary spoken and written language. I forced myself to improve on my Bahasa (Bahasa in a working environment is more fluid, less “royal” than the Bahasa that I used when I was a member of school debate team) – I seriously wanted to make a lasting impression on my superiors and subordinates.

These days, it is a mix of the two. Opportunities to learn languages come in many forms – work environment, friends, studies, etc. It is up to us to grab the opportunity and learn up the main 2 languages in the country.

So, if you, after 53 years of independence and having plenty of opportunities to learn up on Bahasa Malaysia and English still say “saya naik keleta api mali”, shame on you for not taking the trouble to master the two main languages in this country.

As Malaysians, the right way to get the future generation to master both languages is to make away with Chinese and (struggling) Tamil schools and proceed with one school structure that will not only improve the mastery of language and quality of education but also foster greater unity among young Malaysians.

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