In an effort to uphold the national language, the government has been pushing strongly for the use of Bahasa Melayu at the government agencies, government-linked companies, as well as at the international stage.
While there is nothing wrong with upholding our national language, let us not forget the importance of the English language.
In a Facebook post, Muar MP Syed Saddiq has called out to the government to help Malaysians overcome the English language barrier so that they do not miss out on greater economic opportunities.
He stressed that English is the international language of commerce and trade and Malaysians must be proficient in the language to access opportunities around the world.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to the facts on the ground. Proficiency in English is regarded as a crucial quality that companies in Malaysia are seeking when looking through job applications and is very often the reason cited for the perceived unemployability of Malaysian graduates in the private sector,” he said.
Syed Saddiq also pointed out that despite the country being ranked 28th out of 112 countries in the 2021 English Proficiency Index, Malaysians should not be proud that Malaysia is ranked only behind Singapore and the Philippines in Asia.
“We should remember that the competition for talent, jobs and investment in the coming decades will be increasingly global,”
“With a population of only 33 million people, it is crucial that Malaysians are equipped with every possible tool to export innovative ideas, solutions and goods quickly and easily to the rest of the world.” he said.
Syed Saddiq then calls for an education policy that aims to ensure all Malaysian students achieve proficiency in at least three languages, including Malay and English, which is crucial to breaking down walls and building bridges between communities in the country.
In the meantime, he also welcomed the Prime Minister’s efforts to strengthen proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia seeing as to how the language is “part of the country’s rich, diverse heritage that should be celebrated”.
Syed Saddiq went on to express his concerns, saying “I worry that these gestures are merely token steps for the purposes of rallying up support in an election year, without an actual vision or philosophy for language in a complex country like Malaysia.”