KUCHING: A Sarawak PKR leader today supported a call for a referendum to find out how many federal ministers and those involved in education policy-making are sending their children overseas to study English.
“There is a suggestion by certain quarters that there should be a referendum among the federal ministers where and which schools they are sending their children to.
“I support this suggestion so that we know where they send their children to. Are they sending their children overseas to learn English?” asked state PKR Chief Baru Bian.
He was reacting to the announcement made by Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that starting from next year all schools will start using Bahasa Malaysia to teach mathematics and science.
“With this referendum, then we can see whether these ministers are sincere or they just want to make it (using Bahasa Malaysia to teach mathematics and science) just a political issue,” he said.
Bian, who is the Ba’Kelalan assemblyman said: “As a father and a PKR leader, we would like to make a stand regarding the change of education policy as announced by the Minister of Education that the teaching of mathematics and science should be changed back to the use of Bahasa Malaysia.
“An earlier indication from the school was that that they were given option. But now the use of Bahasa Malaysia to teach mathematics and science is absolute and without any option.
“Looking at the history of ministers of education, each one of them would come with a different kind of policy when he took over the ministry, resulting in very inconsistent educational policies.
“Our stand is that you should stick to one policy only as changing it mid-term is really making it worse for our people,” said Bian, pointing out that the government had not learnt from the past.
“Secondly, we must understand we are now moving in the global village as it were that English is one of the common languages used to communicate to day in the pursuit of knowledge of science and global issues,” he said.
As the country is approaching the 13th general election, he said: “It is irresistible conclusion, as a lawyer would say that the minister is using it as a political issue to gain political mileage.
“As a minister for all races, he should not use it as a political issue. It is not fair to other people,” he said.
Commenting on the same issue, Sarawak DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen described the change of teaching mathematics and science from English back to Bahasa Malaysia as a step backward.
“We are all concerned as this is a step backward,” said Chong who is the state DAP secretary, pointing out that “it is a great burden for our students who have to study mathematics and science in Bahasa Malaysia from Form One right to Form Five, and then to English in Lower and Upper Six.
“It would be better for the students in secondary schools to be taught in English in mathematics and science as we are laying the foundation for them to go to colleges and universalities.
“All research materials for engineering, medicine and science subjects are in English. It will be a great burden for our students,” he said.
Chong, who is the MP for Bandar Kuching, accused certain ministers of overzealous over the importance of Bahasa Malaysia.
“Bahasa Malaysia is our national language. It is important, but we have to understand that the country is not an island. We are playing in global fields,” he said, pointing out that the government has to be more practical about this issue.
“If our economy is strong, not only our people will start to learn Bahasa Malaysia, foreigners will also start learning the language.
“Just like China now where a lot of foreigners are learning Mandarin because her economy is strong. But when the economy is weak, you cannot be overzealous about Bahasa Malaysia.,” he said.
Chong also expressed his deep disappointment that starting next near all government departments and agencies must use Bahasa Malaysia as their official communication.
“For Sarawak that is a stupid move,” he said, pointing out that in Sarawak, Bahasa Malaysia, English and native languages can be used alongside each other.
“This is written in our Malaysian agreement,” he said.