More Emphasis On English. Are We Making An About-Face?
The Cabinet decision was made after considering a joint memorandum by the ministry and the Education Ministry which suggested the penalty as part of efforts to promote correct usage of the national language. He also said the ministry would encourage government agencies and the private sector to hold their official meetings in the national language. "English can be used but only after using the national language," he said.
**** It seems as if our government does not really know what it wants to do and is staggering like a blind man without a cane in an unfamiliar place. On one side it laments the poor command of English especially among graduates, most of them Malays and on the other it continues to play the field with concocted threats to the national language and imagined attempts to downgrade it; a ploy that works well with the paranoid, the insecure and the Malay language fanatic.
If imposing penalties is the only way the government feels that it can enforce proper usage, then a more enlightened approach would have been to include English along with Malay for that purpose. That way it would have ensured both languages are correctly used at least on signboards and in advertisements, while at the same time sending out a strong message that the government is serious about promoting English but not to the detriment or at the expense of Malay.
But alas, that would not be politically beneficial to the government now would it? If they promote themselves as sincere and active champions of Malay there surely is much more capital to gain. And that unfortunately matters more to the government than the usage of English by the Malay masses. The children of the Malay elite are conversant and fluent in English. That should suffice for our pemimpin. The future leaders will come from them after all. Why bother the simple-minded Melayu on the 'tepi jalan' and burden him with the bahasa penjajah?
Our leaders must keep in mind that the non-Malays long ago realised the extreme importance of standing on their own feet without government help and to equip themselves with every advantage possible including mastering the English language. If the government insists on going down this silly and foolish path while looking at only the short-term gains, the ones who are going to be seriously jeopardised and disadvantaged in the future are the Malays. Then there will be no use looking for bogeymen in Singapore or among the non-Malays. Those responsible for preventing the Malays from truly progressing are from within their own community and many of them are in the government.
For a refreshingly new look at the subject see Walski's myAsylum