Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blast From The Past

"People in the Philippines are proficient in English, but many landed up only as maids"

—Kulim Bandar Bharu MP Zulkifli Noordin [The Star]

The Kulim Bandar Bharu MP doesn't seem like a very bright chap; he has probably just arrived from several generations ago in a time travel machine—perhaps a blast from the past. He argues his case like a high school kid. One has to wonder how he got elected in the first place. And unfortunately, there are many such creatures who're supposed to bring change for the better, so that we the rakyat can progress.

I will admit that I am not a big fan of Filipina maids. In fact, I've mentioned elsewhere that I don't think I'd ever employ a Filipina as my maid. However, when making the comparison, MP Zulkifli should compare apple to apple. When talking about maids, he should've focused the comparison to those within that group of employment. And had he done that, he would have realised that the English-speaking maids can usually earn higher than their non-English-speaking peers. So, for example, if one were to compare between, say, an Indonesian maid who can't speak English and a Filipina maid who speaks English, the latter usually commands a higher bargaining position.

When talking about professionals, such as doctors and engineers, he should've confined his comparisons to those within those respective professions. And again he would've realised that, in the global sense, those professionals who can speak English would have an advantage over those who can't. Closer home, if I have to choose between 2 candidates applying for a job in my firm, I'm afraid there is a general preference for the one who is proficient in English for obvious reason.

The Chinese people have learned the art of adaptation. If we are required to learn Bahasa Malaysia to survive, then we will learn it somehow. If survival lies in the direction of the English language, then we shall find ways to learn that language too. If there is livelihood in the learning of Jawi as proposed by MP Zulkifli, I'm sure we will be able to conquer that too. But to be quite honest, I can't see how Jawi is gonna help us improve our saleability in the job market—either locally or globally, so I for one will not put my child through a useless endeavour. Maybe Jawi is very good for the Muslim kids for religious purposes. But "returning the practice of writing Malay in Jawi"? This fellow ought to be kidding me!

The only consolation is that the MP also called the Government to make English a compulsory subject. So I suppose at least he acknowledged that English is still important for the next generation.

At any rate, it is scary to see the kind of people whom many Malaysians are hoping to bring change. Maybe we should all think again very carefully if we really know what kind of changes these people have in mind.

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