KUALA LUMPUR, 17 Feb 2009: Bahasa Malaysia proponents today marched to Parliament to deliver a memorandum to Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders, calling on the government to abolish the teaching of science and maths in the English language (PPSMI).
Gerakan Mansuhkan PPSMI (GMP) chairperson Datuk Hassan Ahmad was joined by about 20 other individuals in the march this morning. The group included national laureate A Samad Said, poet and columnist Che Shamsuddin Othman (Dinsman), writer Ainon Mohd and academic Prof Abdullah Hassan, as well as elements from PAS and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) youth wings.
Their memorandum pushed for the return to teaching those subjects in Bahasa Malaysia, “to solve the problems faced by hundreds of thousands of our students especially in rural schools, and to avoid the Malay language and mother tongues destroyed as languages of knowledge, especially in the field of science.”
As of noon, GMP’s memorandum had been accepted by PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang. BN representatives, specifically Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein, did not receive it.
GMP organising committee member Nordin Che Wan, who is also Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Retiree’s Union secretary, told The Nut Graph that he thought it was a bad idea for the ruling coalition to ignore the issue.
“Other parties are making the effort to fight for this cause. It will cause Umno to lose out,” Nordin warned.
A flyer for GMP’s planned 7 March 2009 100,000 Monster Gathering in front of the National Palace claims that the PPSMI is the idea of former Umno president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. It also claimed the PPSMI had “insulted” and “killed the future” of the Malay language.
GMP, which was launched on 31 Jan, comprises 50 organisations, ranging from political parties such as Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and PAS; student groups such as the Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM); and language stakeholders like Persatuan Penulis Nasional (Pena) and Persatuan Linguistik Malaysia.
GMP’s 12-page memorandum touched on academic surveys that demonstrated PPSMI’s inefficacy from an educational perspective, and called into question the Education Ministry’s methodology in proving the policy’s benefits.
“Imagine the problems faced by Malay Malaysian children, or children of other races, that already know Malay or their own languages, when they suddenly enter Standard One and are taught science and arithmetic in a language that they don’t know a word of,” the memorandum stated.
The document, signed by Hassan on behalf of the movement, was careful to add that the GMP was not “Malay language-crazy” or “anti-English language”. It called on the government to take serious steps to improve the instruction of the English language as a subject, instead of teaching technical subjects as a strategy to improve students’ command of the language.