Saturday, March 7, 2009

What is worth fighting for?

2000 people marched to the royal palace, in hopes of sending a plea to the king. They wanted change. The strong show of emotion was met by tear-gas, scattering the marchers from their initial purpose.

Wait, let me back up a little. The plea was to use Bahasa Malaysia again to teach math and science, instead of the current way of using English to teach these 2 subjects. The arguments are as old as age: use B.M so that there's a chance of modernizing the language; use English to improve the English-speaking skills of students.

Is this a trivial thing to fight over? What is worth fighting for in your mind?

Here's the article in case anyone is interested: http://iht.com/articles/ap/2009/03/07/asia/AS-Malaysia-Language-Protest.php

8 comments:

HainanBoy said...

everything is worth fighting for, just because I like to fight! Otherwise life gets boring, and young people are forced to goyang kaki at home or engage in bragging duels at mamak stalls. Working is stupid cause why should I, a future leader of the world, kow-tow to my boss and obey?

Of course I will fight! I am fighting for something I believe in, though don't ask me to explain it cause if it needs not to be understood--you just need to feel it. The rush! The exhilaration of fighting for the good of my people, my country!

We won't be oppressed anymore! Any form of oppression is unacceptable. If you don't agree with me then my brothers and sisters and I will fight you till you agree, until you stay quiet and do things our way. Just because our way is correct, and we are doing it for the good of the people and country!

HainanBoy said...

A more serious and truthful note:

1. English remains the uncontested international medium of communication in the scientific world.

2. To improve and popularize a language, we got to do more than to teach it in schools. All parties involved should criticize and revise it. Utilize it on global platforms, an exercise that proves impossible unless we have achievements to present on the global platforms. *a.k.a. changing road names to Malay would not popularize the language; producing blockbusters in Malay would*

3. Students can very well learn every subject in several languages. That was the way in ChongHwa Independent High School (KL), and probably still is. We learned science and history in BM, English and Chinese.

4. Limiting factors aren't the students. It's the teachers. However we can train current and future teachers to teach in several languages, IF and only IF the authorities are serious in doing it. Currently we are not.

5. Before we talk about modernizing a language via using it for teaching science and maths, I'd prefer to see that language itself put on a strong performance in the literature side. I think Malay pantuns, syairs and sajaks are beautiful and fun, often hoping that I could write some, yet I haven't been attracted to read any Malay novels. I haven't even heard of any outstanding modern Malay novels that is a hit among Malays. I may be wrong on this--correct me!

Adilla said...

The implementation was initially very shoddy on the government's part -- teachers weren't prepared (or capable) to teach Science and Math in English. And then they started having seminars for teachers, etc. but obviously that's still not sufficient.

Some group have done "scientific" studies to gauge if learning Science and Math were detrimental to students' performance, but yes, those quotation marks are there because those studies were also conducted in half-assed and shoddy ways.

And also some people take it the wrong way, too; they think teaching the subjects in English is some kind of 'betrayal' towards the national language, which is bullshit, and totally not the point at all.

I wholeheartedly agree with all of Yao Hua's points -- so much that I can't think of anything else to add XD.

@ Yao Hua: About modern Malay novels, I think the problem is that they aren't popularized enough, because there are actually plenty of decent ones. But then again, I'm not the best person to ask, since I don't read Malay literature that much (although I also find the language beautiful -- for purely linguistic reasons and without bias).
I like the ones by Ahadiat Akashah (but his novels are for teens) and slightly older novels by Othman Puteh (but his novels are for kids haha).
If you like slightly more complicated - and of course more beautifully written - ones (I think that's what you would like), works by A. Samad Said are really well-known.

Random fact: Apparently A. Samad Said is on Facebook LOL! XD

HainanBoy said...

I have read of Othman Puteh's books during primary school years, though I can't remember them now. Obviously I didn't learn anything from them else my Malay wouldn't be so lousy now.

yeah I am sure that there are excellent Malay authors out there. Sadly though I know this because from time to time I read news on some tokoh sastera passing away. I should check out these books.

HainanBoy said...

check this post out. I think it falls short of being a very comprehensive article, since it only insists on using the Constitution to brand PPSMI as illegal. BUT the technically of his written Malay is so awesome that I enjoyed reading it.
http://suwaritimur.blogspot.com/2009/03/nizar-crisismengapa-menteri-guna-jalan.html

Ris said...

Yes, I really enjoy reading novels by Ahadiat Akashah. i think he has his own blog too

Ris said...

woops silap2. i actually was thinking about faisal tehrani hahaha

DJ Flea said...

faris ur thumbnail look like ur flippin off. tp x pon.lol!