KUALA LUMPUR: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad warned that Malays will be left behind in the acquisition of knowledge if the government continues to neglect the teaching of science and mathematics in the English language.
"I don't like to see a Malay speaker who is lacking in knowledge," he said when addressing participants at the National ICT Association's (Pikom) Leaders Summit here Wednesday.
"You may be able to speak fluently in Malay but you will not be able to talk science," he said, adding there were limited scientific books and materials in Malay.
"Every day, new discoveries are made and scientific papers published in English but not translated into Bahasa Malaysia.
"Besides this, Malay books which have been translated are not up to date with scientific developments," he added.
He lamented that the decision to revert back to Bahasa Malaysia was politically motivated following protests from Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in 2008, but it failed to translate into support at the recent polls.
He suggested using ICT to teach the English language.
This, he added, would see teachers involving themselves in software programme development for their respective subjects.
Dr Mahathir also said he had brought up the importance of English as the language of knowledge with the government on several occasions, but it had fallen on deaf ears.
"Do you go to school to acquire knowledge or to learn a language?
"The emphasis today is more on learning a particular language and I think this is a great mistake," he said.On Monday, Dr Mahathir expressed concern over the poor command of English amongst students, which would adversely affect their chances of employment.