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decline or rise in english proficiency in malaysia

Din Merican: the Malaysian DJ Blogger

Vitaque mancipio nulli datur, omnibus usu. – Lucretius (To none is life given in freehold; to all on lease)

English Proficiency in Malaysia: Time for Urgent Action

by dinobeano

20

January 7, 2014

English Proficiency in Malaysia: Time for Urgent Action

by BA Hamzah*

ba-hamzah English proficiency in Malaysia has reached a critical level that it can undermine the well-being and international prestige of this country in the absence of genuine efforts to curb its decline. It is impossible, for example, to conduct diplomacy and commercial relations without a strong command of English.

In 2011, more than forty- thousand Malaysian graduates from public Universities could not get jobs in the private sector because they were not proficient in English. A large number of them were Malays from the rural areas. Their “unemployability” puts a drag on the country’s economic growth.

The poor, especially those living in rural areas, will suffer from the lack of proficiency in English. Not only English has become the world’s lingua franca, it is also the language for science, mathematics, finance, diplomacy, trade as well as in other fields of humanities and social science.

English proficiency provides access to the international job market, which can help the poor get a decent, good paying job.

Since the Asian financial crisis (1997-1998), economic growth in Malaysia has not recovered fully. Whether the country can achieve a more robust economic recovery if the workforce has higher proficiency in English is debatable.

There are, however, empirical studies, which correlate proficiency in English with higher economic productivity.To move out of the middle- income trap Malaysia needs a work force with innovative skills to take nation to the next level.

Higher proficiency in English could probably increase the much-needed innovative skills to handle the ever-complex enabling technologies.

According to the Economist Intelligence (2012), 70 per cent of the executives surveyed said to expand their corporate vision they needed more than fifty per cent of their work force to be proficient in English. The same study shows a positive relationship between employability and English proficiency, worldwide.

The strong correlation between gross national income and proficiency in English is now an accepted dictum. Many maintain that the correlation between English proficiency and gross national income is a virtuous cycle, each mutually reinforcing each other. One study shows that proficiency in English can increase job employability and better salaries.

English proficiency among the poor can level the uneven playing fields and close the income gap between the ethnic groups in this country. It could even unite the diverse communities, which have been gravely polarised by narrow ethnic interests.

Admittedly, language can be emotive as it is cultural specific. This essay does not suggest that we do away with vernacular schools and the national language. On the contrary, the essay calls for the nation to embrace a productive global language that can complement the national language.

The decline of English proficiency in Peninsular Malaysia is traceable to the Razak Report in 1956, which recommended Malay as the medium of instruction. Had our political masters adopted the recommendations in Barnes Report (1951) to use Malay in primary schools and English for secondary and tertiary education, we could have avoided the current predicament.

The recently proposed changes to the teaching of English in the National Education Blueprint are too shallow, myopic and cosmetic in nature; no real structural changes, such as reinstating English schools, for example.  Without deep structural changes to the teaching and application of English, more people will just lose confidence and trust in our education system. Such cosmetic changes are insignificant; good only for cheap publicity.

In fact, poor command of English has begun to erode academic excellence in public Universities. Before 1971, when English was the medium of instruction, our public Universities were highly rated for their academic scholarship. They were at par with the best in the British Commonwealth.

Today is a different story altogether. Universiti Malaya, the pride of the nation, managed 156th place in the QS World University ranking for 2013. Compare this with the National University of Singapore (24), Seoul National University (35) and Nanyang Technological University (41). Surely, something is amiss with our education system for the international academic community to rank our public Universities so lowly.

The Government must do more to reverse the decline in English proficiency, and has to do it with utmost urgency. Do it now in the national interest.

*BA Hamzah is a keen student of political pedagogy. He can be contacted at [email protected]

20 thoughts on “English Proficiency in Malaysia: Time for Urgent Action

  1. Decades later, we are still debating on the need for better command of the English language amongst Malaysians while our neighbours are all striding forward… what is there to argue?

    And do I really care any more? I am proficient in English and so are my children and they are holding good jobs elsewhere in Australia and Singapore and they are never going to come back here… the rest of the population especially the Malays from the rural areas, God bless them because their leaders think for them and they can only follow blindly…. all the good and successful Malays do not care either…. soon this country will go down the gutter fast…. so what?

    We need to let this country be destroyed completely so that we can start anew… so please bring it on…

    Reply

  2. SiangMalam, there is no debate on this issue. It is the unwillingness of the UMNO-led government to accept the reality that English is a universal language.For some reason or other, this government is scared to upset the Malay language nationalists who want to make Malay the global lingua franca. Both can keep on dreaming while Malaysia will continue to suffer from the self imposed language isolation. There is no political will to change.

    Only the dumbest cannot understand that proficiency in English and other important languages such as French, Japanese, Mandarin, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Korean will be good for our people. Translations tend to be unreliable because what is being translated reflects the understanding of the translator of the subject. Goethe is best read in German, Charles Dickens in English, Victor Hugo in French, and Tolstoy in Russian. –Din Merican

    Reply

  3. It’s not that easy to improve our system when we have an Education Minister who doesn’t seem to understand the reality of today’s world.

    It’s pathetic to note in schools on how the English teachers teach children at Primary and Secondary levels. To some teachers, English period has become a ‘free period’ within the classroom because children have to do their own work, referring to dictionaries to find the meaning of words written on the board.

    Many students aspiring to improve English Language skills in the private institutions today have openly criticized English Language teachers teaching English without even knowing the use of verb in its proper tense > e.g. when teacher takes time off to go to the the washroom, teacher tells children in class > ” Do your work, I went to the toilet and I came back soon” and another e.g to note > ” Tomorrow when you came to class” etc. etc. My gosh! it’s atrocious!

    It’s horrifying to note that certain teachers don’t even know the use Present Perfect in their speaking and writing skills. Many students, be it at College or University levels, don’t even know the Present Participles and the Past Participles and their use in writing and speaking skills. How can we expect them to understand the language use in its proper perspective.

    Grammar is the key to learning English to master the four components of the language > Reading, Speaking, Listening and Writing. Our Education System will have to seriously view of going back to our yesteryear on teaching of these basics of the language and not by just employing some Europeans or Americans to perform miracles. It’s rubbish and a complete waste of tax payers money to venture into such business and please don’t make education as your business partner. Muhyuddin has spent few millions on employing foreigners and would the Ministry dare to give the statistics on the progress of these schools for the public to view the outcome?

    It is of my view that nothing can be done with this present government because the ministers are stubborn lot and they don’t care a damn for what taxpayers say after they’re elected. Look at the PM !!!!!!!! It’s the clear example of elected representatives in our system of UMNO Government.

    Reply

  4. All these people who lament about the standard of English language among Malaysians are missing the point.

    Malaysians are exactly where UMNO wants them to be … ill-equipped to compete with the rest of the world and perpetually depending on the hand-outs from UMNO. The UMNO government should continue with this education policy for another 30 years. By then, we will have tens (if not hundreds) of millions of Malaysians who are ready to be exported to elsewhere in the world as unskilled or low-skilled labours (you guess what jobs these will entail). Indonesians, Filipinos, Cambodians, Bangladeshis, etc. will be hiring Malaysians by the dozens to work for them in harsh working conditions and low wages.

    Meanwhile, the UMNO people will continue to send their children for studies overseas. They will continue to rule Malaysia for time-eternity …

    Reply

  5. I believe we already missed the boat on many technologies. We ARE NOT going to be a technological country. Period. Catching up on English is not going to make us technological, its actually the basis only. Going up the technological ladder require so much more – supporting industries especially manufacturing, entreprenuers, financing etc. We have allowed the necessities of these things to fend for themselves and ramble along in the name of “social justice” and short-cuts for economic growth. These opportunities don’t always come around, they come in waves and we missed likely at least a couple of waves.

    Truth is we need English just to remain relevant no matter what. We have too much ignorance not to allow English, the language of the world, to enlightened the bigots and the haters. Not communicating in English gives places for these people to hide and ferment their poison.

    Reply

  6. Honestly, do these Umno bigots care? So long as the gravy train is running in their direction proficiency in English language or whatever languages is of no consequence. After all their command of English is equally bad let alone their ability to think intelligently. This is the making of a failed state and a failed race. And they don’t give a hoot. Period.
    ——-
    Tok Cik, don’t give up.–Din Merican

    Reply

  7. I think there is a misunderstanding. I doubt UMNO strategists truly believe Malay can be built into a global (ok, regional) lingua franca. If this were so, they would logically be cooperating intensively with Indonesia to create such a ‘market’ of over 350 million people.. For example, when I visit Indonesian bookshops like say Gramedia (and not only in Jakarta but all over the nusantara) I am always struck by the plethora of interesting foreign books of all kinds, translated into Bahasa Indonesia for the benefit of the masyarakat. Huge diversity of scientific, political, literary, historical titles from the US, UK and European countries. Yet not one of these easy-for-Malays-to-understand books makes it to Malaysian shores! I suppose all this fresh air would terrify the Malaysian censors.

    No, I think the real reason is that for UMNO to retain power it must keep Malays ignorant and “on their reservation”, believing they are dependent on UMNO to protect them from all those Christian/Chinese/Israeli/now also Shia! threats to their tempurung. Educating rural Malays in English will lead directly to exposure to non-UMNO-controlled, non-TV3, non-Utusan views, to critical thinking, in short to dangerous challenges to UMNO power. Better don’t let either Bahasa Indonesia or Bahasa Inggeris into the rural akal. It’s a simple and as depressing as that.
    —–
    How long can they keep the Malays down in this internet world? Not forever. It will just be matter of time.–Din Merican

    Reply

  8. Corrigendum: when I said 350 million I was including the Philippines which ok, is a bit of a stretch. Say 250 million.

    Reply

  9. I am not for the improving of the young Malaysian’s english. Their success will be my failure. I am now 52. They will take away my job if they are versed in the language. Let this UMNO govenment ferment them more in the illiteracy of this language. Let the govenment enhance their spirit of Nationalism via the Malay language. The very people who are for the changing of the medium of education in Malaysian schools are sending their own children to western countries to be educated. Has the rural Malays seen that ? Has the urban Malays who are better educated seen that ? PLEASE KEEP IT THAT WAY. NO TO ENGLISH IN OUR SCHOOLS !!

    Reply

  10. Are you all sure our ministers are qualified to manage the ministries they are assigned. I strongly doubt so. So how the hell you expect them to run it efficiently. To me the entire Malaysia institution is a joke. We have cave men running in suit.

    Reply

  11. Like some South American countries, due to decades of bad leadership and gross mismanagement, our country’s middle income trap is PERMANENT and LONG TERM.

    Reply

  12. Would you vote for a party that has in its manifesto an Education policy that

    1. Abolishes vernacular schools?
    2. Replaces them with English medium national schools?
    3. Mandarin and Tamil made available in these schools?
    4. Bahasa must be a compulsory pass?

    This is the only Education policy that will make “Malaysia, Truly Malaysia”.

    Reply

  13. Education should never be left to the mercy of politicians. There is no reason why we cannot have two co-equal languages – Malay and English. Canada, for example, has done well with both English and French as co-equal national languages. China, too, realizing the importance of English, is aiming to be a bilingual nation. They have already achieved impressed results in English.

    Reply

  14. Like a stewardess in the national airlines (I didn’t say which country) whose command of the English language was just good enough to serve the passengers. This was told to me sometime back by an airline pilot.
    After the meatballs were served in the First Class, the stewardess walked around the cabin with the sauce and to one of the man passengers, she asked:
    “Sir, would you like me to sauce your balls?”

    Reply

  15. Wan, Din Merican manages a ‘quality’ blog here. Most commentators’ contributions are thoughtful and constructive. Please keep it that way.

    Reply

  16. Swedes, Dutch, Finns, Norwegians — in addition to their respective national languages, they are fluent in English. Road signs in Helsinki are in both Finnish and Swedish (language of the largest minority group)

    Switzerland — French, German, Italian, Romansch + English

    Canada — French and English

    Francophone Africa, Anglophone Africa

    Portuguese in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Brazil

    Endless possibilities.

    Reply

  17. What England. In 1990 I was told by a very senoir PTD officer that ability to speak and write in England does not make you a good officer. And I missed my promotion. And that came from an officer who entered the Malayan Civil Service in 1965 and by that it means that he had compete with others Malayans for a his place in society.

    We have convoluted every principle in the book. And continue to do so. Until we get out of that syndrome and stop this talk of setting up of a ‘Batu Keras Cafe’ in Putrajaya our journey to join the ranks of Third World countries has been clearly determined..

    Reply

  18. It is quite shameful to note that banks and other business outlets can’t even differentiate between “CLOSE and CLOSED” by putting up the sign infront of the door entrance

    Reply

  19. I agree that Malaysia is WEAK in English. Thus, even Gen-Y tends to speak more crap than good things in MALAY. Face it. IF we don’t improve our ENGLISH, WE WILL BE A DOWNGRADED COUNTRY NO MATTER EVEN IF WE HAVE THE MEN AND THE TECHNOLOGY THAT IS COMING IN 2020 BUT LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY IN MALAY AND ENGLISH A MUST. 80% OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION IS DOMINATED BY ENGLISH!

    Reply

  20. I am especially worried that the introduction of PPSMI and other haphazard policies and conditions regarding English in Malaysia have ‘severed’ ties between the masses and the English language. I believe many Malays are upset that they have to use local banking or retail websites (i.e. meant for local use only) in English. If this is a way to encourage the use of English, then it’s a very rude one. English is envisioned as an “international” language only meant for use in foreign correspondence, not a “national” one between one’s own countrymen. Thus it is the perceived misplacement of the use of English that could be an underlying reason for that ‘French attitude’ – the resistance against the use of English by locals. And consequently, low proficiency.

    I know there are many Malaysians who speak English primarily, and I’m one of them. I fear that we are part of the reason of Malaysia’s English woes. The rest of the country thinks we’ve forsaken our supposed mother tongues for the spoils of English, and with that our Eastern cultural identity. Every time I balik kampung for CNY I confront criticisms by relatives, even those about my age, because I don’t speak Chinese as well as English. So I know firsthand the angst is real.

    Our English problem also happens in many Commonwealth countries (former British colonies), where today good English remains the preserve of the elite to divide them from the pidgin-speaking masses (in contrast to those small, rich European countries where everyone’s taught the language at an equal level). It could be linked to how English was introduced to countries. I’ve been to some English African websites and see comments that reflect begrudgence toward English as a colonial legacy, as if these people speak English because they’re ‘forced’ to.

    The world economic balance is rapidly tipping in favour of Asia, where English proficiency is low and progress on it is slow. Soon all this English proficiency talk could be worthless as we’ll all get by well by speaking bad or primary-level English. I’ve read about that non-native speakers communicate more effectively between non-native speakers when no native speaker is around.

    Reply

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Christopher Teh

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Few Malaysians need to be convinced on the importance of learning English, but are they mastering the language? (photo from umlib.um.edu.my)

Decline or rise in English proficiency in Malaysia?

by Christopher Teh Boon Sung

Update (Dec 8, 2011): A modified form of this blog entry was published today in the New Straits Times newspaper.

Few people would argue against the importance of English language today. It is the lingua franca in cyberspace and in international science, politics, business, and entertainment.

Standard of English proficiency in Malaysia, as evidenced by this rather famous house sign (photo from engrish.com)

A study in 2011 by English First (EF) showed just how important English is to a country. This study was conducted on 44 countries (including Malaysia) where English was not their first or native language. The study found that English proficiency generally correlates (relates linearly) with a country’s wealth and export-dependency. EF study suggests that when the people in a country become increasingly more proficient in English, the wealthier the country becomes and the more the country could participate in international trade.

English proficiency correlates with a country’s income (chart from EF report)

Surprisingly, Malaysia scored the highest in English proficiency in the Asia region. Unfortunately, Singapore could not be included in the final analysis due to the inadequate sample size from that country. Overall, Malaysia ranked ninth in English proficiency among the 44 countries!

Malaysia’s high score is certainly surprising considering the much talked about decline of English proficiency among Malaysians and the issue of reverting to Malay from English language as a medium of instruction in schools. One complain about the EF study is the possibility of a large sampling error. English tests were carried out online by people who were interested in testing their English proficiency. Volunteers also tended to be younger than the average population age. Since the tests were all carried out online, I suspect this kind of tests would most probably attract more urbanites than the whole population.

Consequently, this possibility of biased representation of Malaysia’s population by the urbanites may explain Malaysia’s inflated high score in English.

However, I do not doubt the overall validity of EF study results. As stated earlier, English is an important global language. But back in 2004, David Graddol, in an opinion article in Science (Feb 27, 2004) , delivers a startling news: English is in decline in the world. In the 19th century, people once believed in the indomitable embrace of English and that the entire world would eventually speak in English.

The changing percentage of the world’s population speaking English (chart from sciencemag.org)

Graddol’s study, however, show that the population growth among speakers of languages other than English is increasingly more rapidly than speakers of English as their first language. In 1950, for example, nearly nine per cent of the world’s population spoke in English as their first language. But this proportion of English speakers is declining at a rate of about 0.4 per cent for every ten years. By 2050, it is estimated that only 5 per cent of the world’s population would be speaking in English as their first language.

In contrast, Spanish, Hindi/Urdu, and Arabic languages see an increase every year in the number of speakers in the world. By 2050, Graddol predicts, Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi/Urdu, and Arabic would be equally ranked with English as the world language. Mandarin remains the native language by more than a billion people in the world. China’s population is about one-sixth of the world’s population, and when China’s economy overshadows that of the U.S., Mandarin may likely be the new must-learn language. Together with China, countries such as Russia, Brazil, and India are expected to be in the top six largest economies in the world by 2050. In such a scenario, would English language remain as useful as today?

The decline of one language and the rise of another is not new.  Latin, for example, was the language of science before it was gradually replaced by English.

Consequently, I wonder if Malaysia is fighting a losing war in improving English proficiency among the people. Malaysia’s neighboring countries, Philippines and Hong Kong, also witness an alarming decline in English proficiency. A recent official survey showed that nearly half of the Filipino high school graduates could not speak English at all. And although Hong Kong high school students study English for several hours a day, only slightly more than half of the 16-17 year olds could pass the English language exams.

In Malaysia, there is unfortunately a stigmata attached to some people speaking in English. A Chinese who speaks in English is sometimes called a “banana” – he or she may look yellow on the outside but is actually white inside. I once had a Malay research student who was brave enough to speak in English to her Malay friends. For that, she was treated as a pariah because her friends thought it abnormal and queasy to have a Malay person speak English to another Malay.

Consequently, Malaysia’s problem with declining English proficiency is not unique. The fundamental problem in Malaysia is English would always remain a remote or foreign  language, used only by the elite minorities or used only in official or international purposes. For most Malaysians, English is not an everyday language. A survey done in 2001 revealed that only less than 2 per cent (about 380,000 people) of Malaysia’s population spoke in English as their first language.

So, unless Malaysians can somehow internalize English as a language spoken by all races used in everyday life, Malaysia would continue to see a fall in English proficiency no matter what and how much the government tries to promote its use.

The current challenge for individual Malaysians is to be proficient not only in English but in several languages. Malaysia is quite unique in this case. Malaysians, made up of many races, can already speak in English, Mandarin, and Hindi – three languages identified to the major languages of the future.


I like to end this blog entry by reporting a little survey I carried out throughout this month of November. I visited some shopping malls (some more than once) in the Klang Valley (Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur area) and took down the number of people speaking in English, Chinese, or Indian.

I like to make it clear this study of mine is in no way a scientific experiment. I was merely curious to determine the proportion of languages being spoken by urbanites in the Klang Valley. I chose shopping malls because there were enclosed areas and easier to collect my data in relative comforts than on the streets (too hot!).

However, to reduce sources of errors in my data collection, I followed the following rules in my data collection:

  1. I only counted the number of languages upon confirmation. It is tempting to assume Chinese or Malay people would be speaking in Chinese and Malay, respectively. I have to listen and confirm the language in which they are speaking.
  2. I did not count people speaking in business transactions such as a customer talking to a cashier. I was interested in languages used only in conversations between families or friends.
  3. I also did not count languages spoken involving any foreigners. I was interested only in Malaysians.
  4. I avoided counting in places where certain races tend to aggregate. A Chinese Book Fair, for example, would attract the Chinese to the fair and taking down the languages spoken there would probably inflate the proportion of people speaking in Chinese.
  5. Lastly, my data collection must be for at least one hour. This is to ensure that I cover the mall adequately.

Before I report my results, I like to make it clear that I only recorded down the language spoken by Malaysian shoppers. My results does not show their language proficiency or whether they can speak in other languages. For example, I may record a person speaking in Chinese to his friends, but this does not mean he cannot speak in English. He could well speak in English better than his Chinese (or not).

My little study assumes that a language I record is the preferred language of the people in a shopping group. Whether this assumption is true is one possible source of error. Consequently, you can take the results from this study as only a rough estimate of the proportion of languages spoken by Malaysian shoppers in the Klang Valley.

Okay, after a month of data collection, I covered 11 malls. On average, 50 per cent of Malaysia shoppers spoke in Chinese (Mandarin making up nearly 50 per cent of this total and Cantonese 47 per cent). 24 per cent of Malaysian shoppers spoke in Malay. Likewise, an equal amount spoke in English. Only 2 per cent of Malaysian shoppers spoke in Indian. In short, the majority of Malaysian shoppers spoke in Chinese and about one quarter Malaysian shoppers spoke in English.

Proportion of languages spoken by Malaysian shoppers in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya

Nonetheless, the distribution of languages varied according to the mall. Malls, 1Utama, Sri Hartamas, Midvalley, and IPC, showed similar proportion of languages with one another. Nearly 60 per cent of Malaysian shoppers spoke in Chinese and about one quarter to one fifth spoke in English in those four malls.

Being further away from the city center meant that malls such as Jusco Cheras Selatan and Mines had very few English-speaking Malaysian shoppers (in the case for Jusco, I did not find any English speaking shoppers). Surprisingly, however, Pavilion mall, being in the city center, had very few English-speaking shoppers too. This could be due to the small sample size (only 18), or could this be an indication of the people in the city center? From experience, my visits to other malls in the vicinity had few English-speaking shoppers too. A repeat of data collection at Pavilion is probably warranted.

The mall with the largest proportion of English-speaking shoppers is Bangsar Village. This area (Bangsar) is a well known area where wealthy and high socio-economic status people live. This is an area where a lot of expats live too. It is no surprise then to find most shoppers here speak in English. Remember that I did not include the language spoken by expats in my data collection. Unlike other malls, I recorded most Malays here speaking in English rather than in Malay.

At the end, I learn something from my own survey and gain a slightly deeper understanding on the situation of English in the world. English may be important now, but it may have to share its dominance with other languages in the near future.

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– Personal / Rants and raves / Science / Cantonese / English / language / Malaysia / malls / Mandarin / reading / school / shopping

Comments

  1. intersting research, have you been to Indonesia and see how often we spoke it? very seldom. is it a localisation?

    Reply
    • Yes, I have been to Indonesia and I have met several Indonesians too in Malaysia. Malaysia’s command in English is better but really, our level isn’t all that fantastic, so our proficiency isn’t something we are proud of.

      Reply
  2. Dear Mr. Teh,

    I am 20 years old. I can vouch that the standard of English of my generation has reached an all new low. I don’t mean to criticise (okay, maybe a little), but from my humble observations, I have identified a few moot causes of such vast degradation in language (including spelling, grammar, etc.):

    1. Very, very, very few of us READ, in the true sense of the word.
    – I don’t consider drivel such as “Twilight” to be books. There are only a handful of us who actually read quality books. When my parents were young, children as young as 12 would have already enriched their minds with the likes of Dickens, the Bronte Sisters, Austen and others. Nowadays, however, most teenagers tackle the aforementioned when forced to, as part of their school curriculum, perhaps. Even then, the abridged and simplified versions are preferred, over the original masterpieces.

    2. There are much too many distractions around us for us to engage in quality reading.
    – Social media, bad television (Jersey Shore, anyone?) and “smartphones” (which I personally find to be a conspiracy against my generation because they are decidedly heading in the opposite direction)

    3. Labels
    – This may be a bit of a presumption, but the terms “nerd”, I believe, acts as a major hindrance for those who which to be socially accepted to engage in fruitful activities such as reading. Others do “cool” things like flit around in malls.

    I don’t mean to sound like a killjoy or that I have no faith in my peers. I’m sure there are many, many of them out there who believe in knowledge empowerment. I grew up in Subang Jaya, and I think it is unfortunate that the younger generation there have grown up extremely shallow. I truly hope that I am proven wrong.

    Reply
    • You are right. Reading as a hobby is declining because reading requires slower and more concentration — which would never be popular today.

      Literature is not for everyone, and it wouldn’t be fair to berate anyone who don’t read literature. The important thing is find books which fit someone’s interest — be it romance, sports, or science fiction. The most important is to cultivate a strong reading habit. It can be difficult to achieve this if we are reading on topics that don’t interest us.

      I remember someone who hates reading with passion. His mother tried to encourage him to read but to no avail. It was only by chance that she bought him a book on football one day. This was because he loved football.

      Well, it turned out that he loved the story so much that he bought more books on football. One book lead to another and another. Recently, this guy (now an adult) won an award for a book he wrote for youths! Fancy that. 🙂

      Reply
      • Point taken, Sir, Literature isn’t for everyone. But reading as a hobby should be. Knowledge empowerment is crucial for our generation and the ones to come.

        I know my kids are going to have the biggest library on the block! 😀

        Reply
        • The best library are those floor-to-ceiling book shelves, covering all walls in a room.

          Reply
  3. Thanks for the good article. If compare with your neighbouring counrty such Thailand (my country). I have nothing to say…

    Reply
    • I have been to Thailand a few times. My favourite is Chiang Mai. Yes, I agree English is more seldom spoken there than in Malaysia.

      Reply
  4. lolz, at least they try to use english

    Reply
    • Are you referring to the broken English on the signboard? Yes, very funny! Thanks for your visit!

      Reply

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  • Christopher Teh Boon Sung on 3, 4, or 5 fan blades? Do ceiling fans with more blades give more airflow? The science behind your ceiling fan design
  • Christopher Teh Boon Sung on Malaysia telemarketer phone numbers: List of numbers to block and avoid
  • Christopher Teh Boon Sung on Malaysia telemarketer phone numbers: List of numbers to block and avoid
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  • Christopher Teh Boon Sung on Tanarata International School, Year One, First Term: Review/comments from a parent
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Featured articles

  • Why my son will leave Malaysia: Rise of racism, prejudice, religiosity, fundamentalism, and unscientific thinking
  • Are you prepared for a research postgraduate study (Masters or PhD) in Malaysian universities?
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  • My Bella TV interview: Malaysia’s falling proficiency in English – Should we be worried?
  • Why we want sex with beautiful people
  • Petronas vs Shell vs BHP vs Esso: Which petrol brand gives the lowest (best) fuel consumption?
  • The good, meaningful life without God and religion: Malaysian atheists speak out
  • Review of car security systems to reduce risks of car theft in Malaysia
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  • Road fatalities in Malaysia: Are our roads becoming safer or more dangerous?
  • 3, 4, or 5 fan blades? Do ceiling fans with more blades give more airflow? The science behind your ceiling fan design
  • Tanarata International School, Year One, First Term: Review/comments from a parent
  • Is watering our houseplants with washed rice water really that effective? Here’s the scientific evidence
  • Do robotics activities help our children learn better?
  • My Bella TV interview: Encouraging children to read, the importance of reading, and what to do with the reluctant reader
  • Burden of our false races: Defeating racism and the myth of race in Malaysia
  • Crime statistics: Are Malaysia’s rising crime levels a consequence of the country’s growing economy and democracy?
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  • Private car theft statistics in Malaysia: One stolen every 24 minutes
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