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12 theSun | MONDAY JULY 13 2009

speak up!

Finish what you


start letters
letters@thesundaily.com

AS a parent with three children in others, ie the rural and unfortunate


primary and secondary schools, I masses at a disadvantage in their later
Flashback of articles published last week would like to voice my concern over years when they have to compete in
on the pressing need to scrap all nuclear weapons. the reversal of policy to teach maths the job market?
and science in Bahasa Malaysia. However, back to the main point.
My concern is over the disruption The most affected would be the stu-
to the children’s education. There is dents who began Year 1 in 2003. After
no logic in reversing the policy after studying maths and science in English

Hitting the ‘restart


only six years. The government should for nine years till Form 3 in 2011, do
finish what it started in 2003 in all fair- you think it’s logical and fair for them
ness to the children involved. Reverse to revert to Bahasa Malaysia in Form 4
the policy only after this batch finish and take the SPM the following year?
their Form 5 in 2013. We have yet to Revert when this pioneer batch

button’ in Moscow
see the true impact. finish their Form 5 in 2013.
Millions have been spent on the The government can teach maths
training of the teachers to teach maths and science in Bahasa Malaysia even
and science in English. Can these from next year, but please do not
teachers be effective and perform to change the policy until the 2003 batch
reasonable expectations when they finish their secondary education.
by Eric S. Margolis into dangerous confrontation. secret payoffs from Washington, or
revert to teaching in Bahasa Malaysia? Most parents depend on the lo-
President Barack Obama wise- the Kremlin is happy to see the US
I doubt so. cal education system and have no
RUSSIA has over 2,000 nuclear ly went to Moscow this week to sink ever deeper into the Afghan
More perplexing, what is the ra- choice but to send their children to
warheads pointed at the United push what he called the “restart” morass.
tionale to revert to Bahasa Malaysia local universities. Not all can afford or
States. That is America’s most button on battered US-Russian Obama was politely received
for primary and secondary schools secure government scholarships to
important national security and relations. The two powers signed in Moscow by President Dimitri
when English will still be used as the study overseas.
foreign policy concern. another nuclear arms reduction Medvedev and Prime Minister
medium of instruction in Sixth Form? The children from rural areas and
Compared to this potential Ar- treaty making modest cuts in their Vladimir Putin. But Obama’s golden
What about the Mara colleges, urban middle- and lower-income
mageddon, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, nuclear arsenals over ten years to oratory did not move the Russian
universities and matriculation colleges families will be the ones who will be
al-Qaeda are trivial. Washington’s 1,500-1,675 warheads each – still leaders or people. Both remain deeply
where English is the preferred medium at a disadvantage when they have to
first priority is maintaining cor- enough to destroy civilisation sceptical of Washington’s professions
of instruction for all subjects? compete with the English and foreign
rect, civilised relations with Mos- thrice over. of friendship and its growing influ-
Does this not show that the gov- educated children of the well to do.
cow. That means treating Russia This was a major disappoint- ence around Russia’s borders.
ernment actually acknowledges the
as an equal. ment. Neither side needs more A just-issued World Public Opin-
importance of English. Then why prac- JT
The Bush administration put than a few hundred warheads. ion survey finds that opinion of
tise a different policy which will put Kuala Lumpur
the US and Russia on a collision In fact, the “anti-war” Obama Obama is generally positive. But 66-
course by expanding American should have negotiated to scrap 68% of British, French, Poles, Ukrain-
strategic influence into the Baltic,
East Europe, Georgia and Ukraine.
Bush’s plans for an anti-missile
all nuclear weapons rather than
cheese-paring. Every American
president since Dwight Eisen-
ians, Iraqis and Egyptians surveyed
believed the US was abusing its great
power. In Russia, the result was 75%.
One village’s plea
system in the Czech Republic and
Poland (only 190km from Russia’s
border) to shoot down Iranian
hower called for global nuclear
disarmament, mostly recently
Obama – to no avail.
Ominously, in key US allies, Turkey,
86% and in Pakistan, 90%.
Russia and the Muslim world
for an English school
nuclear-armed missiles that don’t The US and Russia are also are waiting to see Obama turn his THE decision on the teaching of maths another teacher to handle Bahasa
exist was a paramount act of stu- violating the 1968 Nuclear Non- professions of change, friendship, and science in English has been made. Malaysia.
pidity and belligerence. Moscow Proliferation Treaty which called and improved relations into actions. I shall not dwell on the merits and The headmaster of the Malay
was predictably enraged. on all nuclear powers to totally So far, they see the opposite. The US demerits of it all as they have been school was kind enough to allow us
Last year, the Bush adminis- eliminate their nuclear weapons. is pressing ahead with the Polish/ dealt with by experts and those in the to use his facilities, but we could only
tration encouraged Georgia’s not Obama came away from Mos- Czech missile project, efforts to bring know. conduct classes in the afternoon.
so bright leader to invade the cow with the Kremlin’s curious Ukraine and Georgia into Nato, and I just want to share the joyful expe- So, as you can see, as far back as
pro-Russian breakaway region of agreement to allow the US to expanding US influence into former rience of bringing the English language the 1960s the villagers of Kampung
South Ossetia, sparking a short, fly soldiers and supplies across Soviet Central Asian Republics. In to a bunch of innocent and happy Ayer Baloi had understood the impor-
nasty Russo-Georgian fracas that Russian territory to Afghanistan. short, surrounding Russia on the kampung kids four decades ago, and tance of English as a tool for learning.
brought Washington and Moscow Either Moscow got some serious strategic chessboard. leave you to form your conclusion. Due to the prevailing political needs
These actions threaten both Rus- In 1969 when we first embarked on and climate of that time, Bahasa Ma-
sia and the US. Russia holds a nuclear our career as teachers, my friend and I laysia was to be used as the medium
gun to America’s head, as America received our first posting to a primary of instruction in all national schools,
does to Russia. The two great powers English school in a small village called starting from Standard One in 1970.
cannot afford any confrontations and Ayer Baloi in Pontian Kechil. To our We followed up this class of ‘69, as
crises when nuclear annihilation is a surprise and utter confusion, when I would like to call it, for five years till
button-push away. we arrived at the village we were not we were transferred out.
The Bush administration’s machi- able to find the school. It was an enjoyable and meaning-
nations around Russia’s borders was After many anxious moments and ful experience, bringing the English
extremely dangerous, and continue frantic inquiries we were told to report language to a group of kampung
today. Is Washington really ready to the headmaster of a Malay school children and seeing them picking up
to risk a possible nuclear war with there. It was here that we found the the language and doing well with it,
Moscow over Georgia, Abkhazia, answer to the mystery of the “miss- too.
South Ossetia or Luhansk, Ukraine ing” school. How did they fare in secondary
– places very few Americans could The folk of this small village had school (or even at tertiary level)? They
find on a map if their lives depended made an impassioned appeal to the would be all of 47 years old today! I
on it. Building anti-missile sites on education authorities for an English can still recall some of their names
Moscow’s doorstep is a reckless and school for their children. So when – Ismail, Md Amir, Amir Hamzah, Na-
pointless provocation. there were enough students (includ- jibollah, Dzaimah, Fadillah, Lim Chong
Russians, peoples of the Muslim ing a Chinese boy) for two classes, the Teik – unfortunately most have slipped
world, and some Americans are green light was given for the English my mind.
wondering if we are seeing Bushism school. I trust they are doing well in life.
without Bush? Could the nasty old So- And the two of us, fresh from col-
viets’ fulminations against “imperial- lege, were selected to pioneer this Tam Yong Yuee
ist ruling circles in Washington have school, together with one ustaz and Muar
been right?” Is an updated financial-
military-industrial complex of which
Eisenhower so presciently warned
still making US foreign policy – no
Be wary of feedback ploy
matter who is in the White House? I HOPE Malaysians are not taken in and maths. I don’t remember him ask-
Hopefully not. But Washington keeps by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who ing for public feedback then as he is
kicking sand into Russia’s face. We is asking for feedback on his blog doing now. Parents of today may not
expected better from Obama. on the decision to revert to Bahasa remember the mischief he has done
Malaysia. to our children and nation. Do not be
As education minister, he insisted taken in by this latest “feedback” ploy
Eric S. Margolis is a contributing on the usage of Bahasa Malaysia to of his.
editor to the Toronto Sun chain of the exclusion of English. After taking
newspapers, writing mainly about almost 20 years to realise his folly, he Maniam Sankar
the Middle East and South Asia. Com- brought back English to teach science Kuala Lumpur
ments: letters@thesundaily.com