by Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Vice-Chairman and MP for Kepong 
on  8.7.2002
in Kuala Lumpur

We urge the Malaysian Education Ministry to ensure that the voices are heard from the bottom to the top and vice versa as a brave measure in the implementation of English Mathematics and Science

The Information Age leads to societal changes. But, the Government's total eradication of English schools in 1970 has been regarded as excesses. To destroy is easy, but to build is difficult. As the Deputy Prime Minister has said, we need brave measures to ensure Malaysians are not left behind. These measures include increasing teaching time for English, using English in non-academic activities, new teaching methods and re-engineering the education system.

We have to prepare for the challenges of globalisation. In our efforts to encourage students to master English and other languages, we must not forget mother-tongue education.


Dato' Seri Abdullah must remember that one of the weaknesses of the Education Ministry is the propensity to change in form but not in the thinking and the methods. It puts new wine in old bottles. An example is the ways it deals with mother-tongue education. We have to break this old habit.

For instance, to develop mental arithmetic and the ability to count among primary pupils, the ministry introduced the abacus and mental arithmetic programme. Last month, it asked Parliament to approve RM49,674,800 used for the programme. There was no trial run, but only total implementation. As a result, the rhymed formula in Mandarin for the abacus has not been translated into Bahasa Malaysia. We cannot use the abacus without the rhymed formula.

The Deputy Prime Minister understands the mentality for indecent haste among a small number of the top officials. They must do what they want, regardless of the consequence. Now, there are obstacles to the implementation of the English Maths and Science. The ministry should not repeat the mistake as seen in the abacus programme.

We hope that in the days to come Dato' Seri Abdullah will be able to ensure that the voices are heard form the bottom to the top and vice versa so as to overcome the obstacles.

We must not neglect mother-tongue education. We must encourage Malaysians to learn other languages including English. We believe in multilingual education and the polyglot society especially in the Information Age.