13 March 2009

Mind your own language

"Oh blimey!" That was my reaction when a colleague of mine, during one of our usual mengeteh sessions asked me on the issue of PPSMI. My colleague, who considered himself as a 'pejuang bahasa' and a self-confessed freedom-of-speech fighter, not contented with my answer trying to poke me again with the question.

"Seriously bro, what do you think?"

Seriously, I don't want to think. At least on this issue. Because seriously I don't know what the issue is all about or whether there is any issue in the first place. However, if somebody seriously seek my opinion, then these are my two cents (or senses) ...

For a cool and simple guy like me, 'Bahasa' is just a medium. People communicates with each other using some sort of 'bahasa'. Melayu talks with another Melayu in Bahasa Melayu. Chinese talks with another Chinese in Bahasa Cina and Indian talks with another Indian in Bahasa India. If any of those 'bangsa dan kaum' talk with one another in 'bahasa itek' for example and just for the sake of fun, then this world will be full of crazy people.

ساتو دوا تيڬ امڤت
one two three four

wahid isnain salasa arbaah

They all give the same meaning.

According to our 'ilmu tawarikh' , Bahasa Melayu was once used widely in this Archipelago as a lingua franca. Munshi Abdullah, the great Malay scholar wrote to the Kings in the far land in Bahasa Melayu and wrote it in Jawi. Bahasa Melayu was accepted and well respected at that time. That was so long time ago.

"Walauweee.... lansi liao"
"lu Ganu kite, how come you didn't talk like one meh?"

Once upon a time in Malaya, our education system used to have LCE, MCE and HSC. All subjects were taught in English. I am sure in the beginning it was very hard for the student, especially in the rural area to embrace the foreign language, and yet at the same time to master the subjects. But nobody was complaining. Because they knew, what they really want was knowledge. And many went further even to oversea to further their jihad and succeeded.

PPSMI? It has been six years now, and millions has been spent for this project. Millions of taxpayer's money. Teachers were trained and retrained. ABMs (alat bantuan mengajar) were upgraded. Pupils mind has been tuned and realigned. There were surely hiccups here and there, which is normal. If there is any loopholes and venue for improvement, why don't we just improve it? To make it even better. We must start somewhere. Don't you think?

Recently, some of our brothers and sisters who eat nasi lemak and roti canai came out to the street demanding for the system to be abolished. Honestly, I don't blame them. Naturally that is what a 'pejuang' will do. They will fight for whatever on this earth they believe is correct and worth fighting for. Korek? korek...korek...

Pejuang bahasa will fight for their bahasa. Pejuang bangsa will fight for their bangsa. Pejuang kucing will fight for their kucing (PAWS) and the list can goes on and on. Otherwise they don't live up to their name :)

Personally, I don't really care if my kids were to learn many languages in their schools. In fact it is a privilege. You can conquer the world if you master many foreign languages. Let be more realistic and leave all the rhetoric behind. Let look at our current scenario. Do we have sufficient academic books or references written in Bahasa? Would, for example other scientific communities "ambil pot" if our local researchers write their finding in Bahasa?

and something to ponder. Do you think reciting a doa in Arabic is more 'afdal' than chanting the same one in any other languages? Or do you become less Melayu by simply learning few subject in English? And who is Melayu and what is bahasa? (that is another serious topic, of which I don't really keen on cracking my head on at the moment).

Again, bahasa is just a medium. At the same time it can be complicated but funny too. Not trying to be funny or make fun out of it, 'besar malunya' has a totally different meaning from 'besar kemaluannya". And in Arabic if you miss one consonant or a vowel, your habibi will be left in a very embarrassing situation as in "This is Zakaria" and "This is Zakari".

Language is so beautiful and full of surprises!

On a more serious note, if we want to fight, let fight for what we really believe for. Fight for the ONE, for Addin and fisabilillah. That is what I believe and that is what we must fight for.

That is my 2 cents.

Masterjee, a thousand apologies!


caturist said...

Saya boleh berbahasa banjar dan jawa!

DrSam said...

Brilliant mate! My wife is a Bugis + Jawa. Whenever I go back to BP, her kampung, sometimes I feel like I were in a different world. Terlopong :)

Meen Eunos said...

Great mind think a like!

Even org buta pon communicate
using with their so-called bahasa
What's the big deal??

Tepok dada tanya la selera.

CAHAYA said...

It's good to know other languages. I wish I know more than just English and Malay. And a bit of Sarawak n Negeri. :)

Dalam Al-Quran pun ada tulis, "Lebih banyak yang kita tahu ttg satu bangsa itu, maka terselamatlah kita dari tipu daya mereka".

Gampangnya Waikato said...


The notion of the meaning of true mujaheddin is grasped.

I hope people would understand the gist of your story my brother.

Zue said...

Bahasa sebagai medium komunikasi...lagi banyak bahasa lagi luaslah komunikasi kita.
Bahasa sebagai medium meneroka ilmu...sukar menafikan bahasa Inggeris sebagai perpustakaan gedung ilmu.
Bahasa untuk penerapan ilmu..khasnya untuk anak2 yg jauh di pendalaman...itulah yang mungkin dimaksudkan oleh "pejuang bahasa"...sebab bahasa ibunda lebih menyerap ilmu di dada.

entah le...pendapat I je ni drSam

ps: cepat betul u mengarang blog ekk

x said...

I second that! Very well said, Doc :)

MariaFaizal said...

AnyTHING will be an ISSUE, if POLITICS' involved!


he he he...Chill out DrSam.

Eliz said...

i have to agree with you DrSam, i come from Sarawak and where most people speaks english.. and from my experience (guru sandaran at rural area) kids are excited to learn new language and yes.. learning english doenst make me forget how to speak in malay.. it's all politics siegh

DrSam said...

I think the problem is, they you-know-who, 'asyik tepuk' the different part of 'dada' :)

No doubt about it!

Gampangnya Waikato,
I hope your jihad will give you that kind of spirit too.

Buat masa ni berjuang untuk diri sendiri melawan musuh-musuh yang sekejap dan datang sekejap pergi.

p/s: Macamana you tahu I cepat tulis entry ni? Skodeng kat Google earth ye :)

Si Penconteng,
TQ. Harap-harap perjuangan disinun berjaya.

No worry Maria. I am cool.

Really? You must share with us your experience teaching the rural kids. I am sure you have lots of interesting stories.

kuIna said...

agree wth MariaFaizal..

why now.. after 6 years?

ocw said...

Let me count how many languages i can speak.......Mandarin, Malay, English, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Fu Chou, Tamil, Siam,.......nor many ler.....just polyglot....walau......lansi liao......

Encik Ariff said...

setuju dengan zue..
saya rasa bahasa asing sukar dihadam oleh budak-budak yang baru nak mengenal dunia.

pembelajaran di sekolah menengah mungkin sesuai dalam bahasa inggeris.

besi said...

dr sam...memang tak leh ajar math ngan sains dlm melayu ke? mmg kena dlm english ? kalau ajar dlm bahasa melayu results semua jatuh ke?

DrSam said...

kulna Jentayutiara,
to say there was no effort ever since the PPSMI was on place, is probably not true either. I've known a 'pejuang bahasa', my sifu from UKM who has been relentlessly voicing up his opinion on this matter to the higher authority, but to no avail.

As usual, some information get distorted somewhere.

Lu memang lansi liao! But you forgot one more language that is becoming vital nowadays at our place - the silent language. Take care bro.

encik Ariff,
Ada kebenarannya. Sebab itu penambahbaikan perlu dilakukan secara berterusan.

Bahasa sebagai medium. math dan sains hanya objek dan subjek.

Saya sendiri bekas pelajar UKM yang memurtabatkan Bahasa. Saya kagum, bangga dan terharu di forum antarabangsa yang diadakan di Malaysia, hanya rakan-rakan dan bekas pensyarah saya dari UKM sahaja yang akan menggunakan Bahasa didalam penyampaian ilmiah mereka.

Namun jika berjaya atau gagal seseorang itu disandarkan kepada satu elemen shj, maka ada sesuatu yang tidak kena.

Memang tiada kesalahannya jika pengajaran menggunakan Bahasa. Tiada persoalannya disitu. Namun saya merasakan dan berpendapat bahasa tiada pertalian yang mensyaratkan seseorang itu untuk mencari ilmu. Persoalannya apakah itu isu sebenarnya?

Kak Teh said...

Dr Sam,
Francis Light, Farquhar and even Raffles - they all learned and wrote in Jawi Malay. Light wrote letters to our sultans and pembesar negara in Malay and in Jawi, although Raffles used scribes. My professors - from Russia and Germany speak malay and write in jawi.
At the moment, I am more concerned with speaking the 'right' and proper Malay, or English.
I am sad at the decline in quality of Malay - written by Malays.
Tidak ada masalahnya bercakap dan menulis dalam bahasa asing, tapi mesti kita kekalkan mutu penggunaan bahasa kita dengan baik. Kalau orang asing dapat bercakap bahasa kita dengan baik, mengapa tidak kita
Itu yang kak teh dapati di sini - lebih ramai para pelajar bukan melayu yang lebih fasih berbahasa Melayu.

DrSam said...

Kak Teh,
During one of the visit to the British Museum, I was very excited to see some of the original letters written by Munshi, in Jawi, to the foreign dignities displayed in one of the sections. The foreigners seems to have more respect to our language. Once I saw and heard one of the curators of the museum speaks fluently in Bahasa with Indonesian dialect.

If you can see for example, how damaging the Bahasa and its slang circulating through text messaging these days, I think any 'Pejuang Bahasa' can easily get stroke for that.

Unknown said...

Dr. Sam, maybe if the PPSMI issue is looked at from the critical pedagogue perspective we might be able to ask the right question to know what they have behind the fight. Have we ever asked the question to whose interest is being met to make Science and Math to be learned in English? Who benefit more from the changes made by the government? I am an English teacher but then I see the flaw here... The intention was good but then, the implementation is not up the standard and that is why we are basically wasting so much money in the process. Ask the question why it is done and whose interest is met. Obviously the teachers and students are made victims here... who benefit more?

Zue said...

Saya bersetuju dengan pendapat Teacher. Yes, the intention is good but the implementation is very hard to say. The intention is to ensure students good and "fluent"in English language. But it is enough in just to make Science and Math as an object?
kesian kat pelajar yg BI bukan bahasa sekitaran esp
i. kumpulan pelajar yang sederhana (everage) and below.
ii. pelajar kawasan pendalaman

Sebab tujuan kita supaya pelajar akan fasih dalam BI dan dalam masa yang sama dapat memahami subjek Sains/Math dengan baik.
Memang mudah bagi kita yang dah ter"educated" kerana kawasan tempat tinggal dan environment kita yang BI-BI kat mana2.tapi bagaimana dgn hasrat sebenar to educate pelajar secara keseluruhannya.

ouT oF My MinD said...

tp saya rasa, tak ramai dah student skrng nie ada probs dgn bahsa inggeris diorang. sepupu dan adik2 saya tak pernah bising pun diorang kna blajar dlm bahsa inggeris dan dorang rasa, dorang lg improve. Dan saya dulu pernah masa masuk sekejap ting.6, saya terpaksa belajar IT dalam bahasa melayu. sooo funny term2 yg dh ditranslatekan ke BM dan agak susah nak faham. Then saya ambik IT di kolej, dalam BI. Takde masalah. malah lagi senang nak faham.
Tapi apa salahnya blajar math n sains dlm BI. itukan preparation utk dorang bila sambung study. Lagipun mostly buku-buku ilmiah banyak dlm BI.
Orang US yg saya pernah jumpa sendiri pernah memuji kita sbb rakyat kita fasih berbahasa inggeris, tidak seperti negara-negara asean lain.

Unknown said...

If you read the paper today, 'they' are giving statistics on performance achieved by urban schools... have they mentioned anything on the performance of schools in Besut for examples where the teachers have to struggle with the students to understand what is to be taught and what is to be learned. I see that damage control is being done wisely and delicately. But what about the marginalized ones? Those whose proficiency is below low?

atie said...

Salam drsam, saya setuju dengan teacher dan zue, memang ada pro dan kontra...Keberkesanan adalah bagi murid bandar yang dah biasa dengan bahasa ing, tapi bagi murid luar bandar agak berat terutama untuk faham tentang istilah2 saintifik,Mungkin mereka boleh dibiasakan dengan bahasa tapi mengambil masa, sedangkan guru perlu menghabiskan sukatan mengikut jangka masa yang tertentu, dan dalam proses itu mereka ini akan ketinggalan kerana untuk memahami bahasa dan isi pelajaran perlu selaras dengan pengetahuan sedia ada murid, so...pro dan kontra kan.Apa yang penting ialah PPSMI ini mesti boleh dimanfaatkan oleh semua murid bandar dan luar bandar.

Unknown said...

My dad gave the same reason like Atie and actually it makes sense.

Contradict with his answer I think it doesn't matter whether you're "budak bandar" or "budak kampung", what matter the most is the way of teaching for these two type of pupils.

I know a lot of hard work will be needed in order to make it balance and as I said Atie got her point right.

I wonder about the "budak kampung" fact again when I read about "Anak nelayan dapat 20A". Another news was about better result in SPM this year. And you say PPSMI isn't good?

I doubt that there is gab between them (referring to "budak bandar" and "budak kampung"). Kids nowadays are way to smart compared to kids years ago. Just take a look at the academic statistic today. Big different!

I wonder what pride are we fighting when the reference books are all in English and we still sending our kids to study abroad... yet we are fighting against the norm?

It's just a language.

Our race is funny sometimes when we talk about something good, we tend to find 1001 excuse for not learning but prefer to stay in our comfort zone. Good for you.

Remember, we have no different from Singapore but why their Malay can speak and write better English than us Malaysia? Why India a very poor country can speak better English than Malaysia? Why Africa, rural area can speak good English better than us?

We Malays, pride that can make us proud. We called it "dignity". Is it really so?

Please don't suggest something that bring no good to the nation such as "budak bandar" has to follow "budak kampung" level. Is this how we want to develop our kids?

I support PPSMI 100% no matter what.

Mia's Mom said...

I believe in fighting for something that one believes in and worth fighting for. But, to politicise it, is a different matter after all.

Language, as DrSam puts it, is a medium. Learning different languages is always wisdom in itself. It does not make you less or more of a race but somehow it helps in widening your horizons as it opens up to a whole new world.

But I was wondering why teaching two subjects in English became a big issue. Is this going to be an opening to a bigger issue? To me, what is more important is not to "fight" on this issue but to work more on making Bahasa Melayu a more "perkasa" language and to educate people to use the language properly. Have campaign for proper BM usage as you like; have BM toastmasters session, anything, if you are so worried that it is not getting its proper place. But to make noise on the issue of teaching two subjects in English......

I respected the language (BM), I am proud that once it is a lingua franca, I am glad that steps are taken from time to time to enrich it, to make it grow - unlike some older languages which is lost due to selfishness of keeping it "sacred" by refusing to import new words (somehow, this much I know)and I am proud that most renowned Universities in the western countries has Malay studies as one of the subjects offered.

Somehow, whether the two subjects are taught in English or not, we are living in a world where the opportunities of acquiring knowledge and further education are boundless and most reference books, research papers and journals are still written in English. Learning two subjects in English does not make one an expert in the language either. So, as m e E n put it,.. tepuk dada tanya selera.

Unknown said...

Dr. Mahathir said "Do something to improve English" NOT "Teach Science and Math in English". Why can't people understand the simple instruction he gave before he stepped down?

And ONE anak NELAYAN made it to the top can actually represent the whole population of the poor?? Get real please... such is just an isolated case.

I am just concerned about how social justice is not being practiced in this so-called democratic country. What a shame eh??

Memorable trails... said...

I am teaching in a rural school and I support PPSMI 100%.Each day I see my students struggle with PPSMI which is a good challenge for them-an early preparation for their varsity and career world.Learning any language is a process.We cant be good in a short time.The best time to learn is at a young age..so why wait??As a person who involves directly in ppsmi,I agree with Teacher, the problem lies in the implementation.So, rectify the problem n focus on it.We just cant scrap off the whole program and burn millions of $$$.Read my post on "Etems..again and again"
As Dr agus said, if we reject PPSMI , it means that kita awal2 lagi telah menolak untuk bertanding di peringkat antarabangsa.I agree with him.How can we achieve Vision 2020 i.e.being global players if we reject PPSMI now?How can we turn Malaysia into a country based on Science and technology by 2020?PPSMI is one of the steps towards achieving the vision.To me an isolated case of anak nelayan should be taken as an example to all including the teachers of ppsmi yg sesetengah tak ambil pot abt using English in d classroom.The govt has open the door for us, and we should enter it with the spirit of MAlaysia Boleh as been shown by that anak nelayan!We are not living in a fishbowl right..
My second child is struggling with her French and my third child is struggling with her Arabic for their third language..n I m all for them..The problem with most of us is we have been in a complacent state for a long..long time, susah sikit tak mau.Come to think of it , these Math n Sc teachers are considered brainy lot..so why must they have problem with d language.Tepuk dada tanya selera!
My two cents.

Memorable trails... said...

Hei doc..Just want you to know..I like your ending to this post..'masterjee..."It keeps me smiling all day long.

CatlinaFly said...

salam dr sam..
sy pun tertarik nak bagi pendapat kat sini..

bahasa melayu itu indah dan luas cuma tak diterokai sepenuhnya.tak salah kalau istilah2 sains dan matematik itu ditukarkan kepada istilah bm...

sy ade kwn satu bidang dgn sy, dari Indonesia..satu hari,ternampak buku teks farmakologi dia...kagum sebab 100% telah diterjemah dlm bhs Indonesia..

(hmm..kalau kartun2 cam doraemon, shinchan leh dialih bahasa, kenapa tak buat mcm tu kat buku2 teks dari luar?)- pendapat sylah..

rasanye institut terjemahan kat negara kita (sy tak pasti siapa..DBP kut)kene lebih aktif & proaktif dlm perbykkan terjemahan buku2 sains & matematik dlm bhs melayu.

"bahasa jiwa bangsa"

kita tak nak yang dikejar tak dapat, yang dikendong berciciran.

Fly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fly said...

salam dr, berkenaan dengan isu ini, apapun masing2 ada pandangan dan pendapat peribadi tentang isu ini. Apapun sebagai seorang guru dan sentiasa berdampingan dengan pelajar-pelajar di luar bandar dan guru-guru, PPSMI tidak banyak membantu pelajar untuk cemerlang dalam sains dan matematik, kasihan pada anak bangsa kita di kampung2 yang sememangnya lemah dalam B.inggeris, saya sangat menyokong kalau subjek Bahasa inggeris itu sendiri ditambah baik dari segi P&P, contohnya diberi kursus kepada guru2 b.inggeris untuk lebih cekap mengajar dalam b.inggeris itu sendiri.Sains dan matematik adalah subjek kemahiran, subjek kemahiran kalau kita pelajari dari segi psikologi pendidikan perlu dipelajari dalam native tongue(bahasa asal pelajar) .Bahasa Inggeris itu penting tetapi biarlah ia diajar dengan lebih baik dan berkesan. Diantara Masalah pelajar-pelajar di Malaysia ialah perbezaan status sosioekonomi keluarga dimana mereka yang berada di pedalaman mungkin kebanyakan menghadapi fenomena rasa rendah diri dimana ada yang tidak dapat mencapai gred yang tinggi berbanding dengan pelajar di kawasan bandar yang mana keluarga mereka boleh membekalkan persekitaran yang meransang anak2 untuk bertutur dalam Bahasa Inggeris
Slogan bahasa jiwa bangsa perlu diterapkan di setiap jiwa anak2 tapi kita tidak boleh menidakkan pentingnya bahasa inggeris dan merupakan salah satu cabang ilmu yang penting. Andaikata jika PPSMI terpaksa dihentikan,Institut Terjemahan Negara Malaysia (ITNM)perlu digerakkan dengan lebih berkesan.Hasil2 kajian dan rujukan dari bahasa asing perlu diterjemah dengan meluas.Perbanyakkan dan sentiasa kemaskini rujukan dari segi bahan bercetak, web dan sebagainya untuk segala bidang ilmu untuk memberi peluang kepada rakyat malaysia untuk lebih berdaya saing dan tidak ketinggalan dalam segala lapangan ilmu. dan jika diteruskan juga janganlah dipinggirkan bahasa melayu dari segala aspek, wujudkan semula kempen2 cintai bahasa kita, matapelajaran sastera Melayu di sekolah di martabatkan semula, jangan kerana arus kemodenan kita tidak tahu karya2 penulisan agung kita. Ini hanya pendapat saya yang sungguh banyak kelemahan dalam diri.

Ida BorneoLove said...

would love to learn more languages, i think our language & others have their own beauty & uniqeness.

pejuang blog will fight for fellow bloggers' blog!!

ocw said...


The silent language is useless to me......just look at me and many of our freinds......kita sabar depa ingat kita boleh dimakan......kita buat kerja tak kacau orang lain......tapi depa asyik kacau kami. Ai least puas. Peace...bro.

arsaili said...

salam...setiap kali berubah kepimpinan, setiap kali berubah la polisi. Tiada satu pegangan yang pasti....kejap dalam bhs inggeris kejap dalam bhs melayu. Cikgu semua pening dan jadi mangsa nya masyarakat - anak2 yg belajar. Jadi sampai bila penghujungnya...jadi untuk memastikan anak2 tidak ketinggalan..mereka perlu bersedia untuk menguasai bahasa inggeris dan melayu sebagai mana bangsa lain yg mampu menguasai bhs melayu, inggeris dan mandarin. Bila berubah pun polisi, anak2 mereka tidak menjadi org yg rugi atau ketinggalan hanya kerana isu bahasa.

CATZ said...

saya agree..bahasa adalah MEDIUM. saya juga setuju..adalah privilege juga tahu beberapa bahasa. Ada pro dan kontra nya dlm pelaksanaan PPSMI. kalau dah spent berjuta-juta lemon or maybe more than a bilion to upgrade ABM, buat system baru, dan sebagainya, haruslah ia dimanfaatkan oleh semua tak kira murid bandar atau luar bandar. Kalau ada kekurangan, mungkin cara penyampaian, system atau ada sesuatu yg tak kena yg harus diperbaiki. Dan tgk jugalah apa objective PPSMI ni. Mungkin kalau nak pelajar fasih dlm English, cara pembelajaran bahasa inggeris itu yg harus di kaji utk make sure pelajar fasih dlm BI. Improve silibus..cara penyampaian dan sebagainya, sebab, still bahasa itu adalah medium. Kalau tak belajar math dan sains dlm english pun, tapi bahasa inggerisnya bagus, tak kisahlah belajar di mana pun nanti tetap dia boleh belajar.Dan saya juga merasakan, bahawa sebagai org melayu, kita memang kena pertahankan bahasa melayu.
Tapi mmg bagus kalau boleh menguasai lebih dari satu bahasa.
saya teringin nak belajar mandarin.hiks.oklah now..at least saya boleh berbahasa melayu, inggeris dan JAWA. ada jugak advantage nya..hahaha.

Yunus Badawi said...

Salam kenal dan kunjungan balas.
Masa saya belajar dulu guna pengantara BI. Saya ambil LCE dan MCE.

Pyanhabib said...

tumpang lalu dan tumpang senyum...
(waw, pengomen pun panjanggggg!)

EdaManAli said...

I agree with U, Dr.

I'm very grateful if I were taught in English last time at my Uni...

have U heard these words, in programming language...
-kutip b'ganda

students fr other Uni laugh at us & make fun of those words...

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