KUALA LUMPUR: All Malaysians should be trilingual – fluent in Bahasa Malaysia, English and another language of their choice, says Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.
This should be part of a package of reforms to overhaul the current education system, said the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) president.
And personally, for Syed Saddiq, as a backbencher in the Dewan Rakyat, he wishes for the education reform to come first on the government’s agenda.
“We should ensure there’s an aim where Malaysians are trilingual and proficient in Malay, English and a third language, be it Mandarin, Tamil, Arabic or others,” the Muar MP told Sunday Star at the Parliament building recently.
However, Syed Saddiq said there are times when there is no political will to push through such reforms in parliamentary debates.
“We are debating about whether learning English, or a third language, or restructuring our syllabus will hurt our identity as Malaysians.
“But at the same time, those who say this are sending their children to international schools or to study abroad,” he said.
Syed Saddiq said he hoped to see structural change in the nation’s education system, which ties in with a proper job stimulus package to ensure employment.
Among his proposals are cutting the time for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) leavers to get a degree from six to four years, removing irrelevant subjects for tertiary education, and addressing issues with Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
“The government should also provide funding for SPM leavers of all races who want to take microcredential courses (short courses on specific qualifications) like coding,” he said, adding that such courses were a growing trend.
At the end of their studies, he said, a job stimulus package should be available to graduates.
On the coming state elections, Syed Saddiq said Muda was discussing strategies and will reveal more details when the time is right.
“We look forward to taking part and ensuring we have a place in the respective states. We have new young leaders who focus on solutions in building a more developed Malaysia,” he said.
Six states – Kelantan, Kedah, Terengganu, Selangor, Penang and Negri Sembilan – which did not dissolve their state assemblies during the 15th General Election will hold their state polls this year.
On Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s invitation to Muda to join the committees formed by the unity government secretariat, Syed Saddiq thanked Anwar for responding promptly to the party.
“We don’t have details on how we will be participating, but we take the news positively,” he said.
Previously, the Muda leadership expressed its disappointment that the party was left in the dark about the secretariat meeting on Feb 7.
“Some asked why we brought this matter out when we could have managed it behind closed doors.
“But we have tried using existing routes before bringing it up in public,” Syed Saddiq said.
Since December, he said Muda had written three times on party-to-party relationships and scheduled meetings to ensure they could build stronger bridges.