SIBU: Sacred Heart Old Students Association here fully supports the call made by the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim IbniAlmarhum Sultan Iskandar, for the use of English as the medium of instruction in schools.
Its president, Robert Lau Hui Yew, yesterday said he had during its last year and this year’s annual general meeting called for the return of English as the medium of instruction.
Its members overwhelmingly supported this call.
“There are very good reasons for this. One of the reasons mentioned by the Sultan was the unifying factor of English in a multi-racial society. Our education system now is dividing the different races. Currently, the Malays go to national schools and the Chinese goes to Chinese schools,” he said.
There were actually English medium schools now in Malaysia and are gaining popularity, he said.
“They are in the form of private international schools. There are two in Kuching, one in Miri and Sibu. One is being set up in Bintulu.
“But they are private schools that charge high fees, which make it only accessible to the middle and upper class from the urban area. The poor and rural population is losing out. The English medium school in the form of private international school is dividing the society based on class,” Lau added.
Sarawak, he disclosed, had always been quoted as a shining example of a harmonious relationship between the various races. One of the reasons was due to its education system, which was the last state to be “nationalised”.
With the nationalisation, “we can slowly but surely see the erosion of racial harmony even in Sarawak”, he said.
Lau emphasised that English was the international language of trade and commerce. The Sultan of Johor has again correctly pointed out the impact of English on the society of Singapore. He said the nation had just to look at Singapore.
“Singapore is our closest neighbour. We don’t have to go very far, we should emulate them as the island republic has achieved development way ahead of us.
“Let’s be honest with ourselves. Singapore has done well as a country. Their students have fared very well in Mathematics and Science. The prominent use of English has them ahead of us,” he was quoted as saying.
The association pointed out that another factor why English should be used in Sarawak’s school was the fact that English was still the official language in the state.
It urged the state political leaders to take definitive stand on this issue by first seeking the return of the right to administer its own education system from the Federal Government.
With the autonomy over its own education system, Sarawak could take the next step to re-introduce English medium school. This would be the right thing to do for the state and its children, he opined.