JOHOR BARU: The level of English among the people is deteriorating and something needs to be done to stop the rot. That is the opinion of Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.
The Sultan has always felt the need to have a single stream education system instead of the present three types of schools – national, Chinese and Tamil.
In this second part of an exclusive interview with The Star, the Ruler speaks on a range of issues, including development projects in the state and economic assistance for developers and house buyers.
He also speaks about his vision for the state, the reasons for the recent changes in names of districts in the state and his hopes for 2016.
Q: Tuanku, the level of English is deteriorating and Malaysia is fast becoming a country where the young are unable to converse in proper English while members of the older generation ar better at the language as they attended English schools. In most other countries, the trend is the opposite. What are your comments?
A: Yes, I agree. If you realise, most government officers nowadays are unable to speak or write good English. That is why I am not in favour of the present three types of schools (National, Chinese and Tamil).
Nowadays, there are Chinese and Tamil students who do not know how to speak Malay and of course, Malay students who can’t speak English.
In those days, English schools were regarded as “neutral ground”. All races attended these schools. During my time, it was a must to know both Malay and English.
But now, when you teach Mathematics, Geography and History in Malay in schools, students are at a loss when they have to read books in English in universities. How can you be a scientist when your English is so bad?
That is why I speak to my children and wife both in English and Malay at home but converse in Malay when I meet my rakyat. The previous generation spoke English beautifully.
Yes, English is in danger of becoming the language of the older people while the young cannot speak English proficiently. In countries such as France, Spain and China, young people are speaking English.
It is the reverse in Malaysia. I am alarmed. So, how can we improve the situation?
No one should politicise education and health issues. I am worried for the education standards in this country. Please wake up!