Make English a compulsory pass subject
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) fully supports Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's recent announcement that English would be made a compulsory pass subject in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) once teachers and students are ready.
The FMM presidential committee chaired by Yong Poh Kon, which met on Feb 27, 2013 views the government's statement as most encouraging and a critical step in the right direction.
As employers, manufacturers are very concerned over the declining level of English proficiency in the Malaysian workforce.
English, being a tool of knowledge and medium of business and technical communication, contributes to their ability to compete globally.
It would also greatly assist in the nation's progress towards a high income economy.
To make this intention a reality, a definitive timeline should be set to make English a compulsory pass subject.
FMM has proposed to the government that English should be a compulsory must-pass subject in public examinations at all levels by 2018.
A definite timeline would ensure that the necessary resources and concrete steps are undertaken within the next five years to implement the policy.
At the same time, students, especially those taking public examinations in 2018, would be better prepared since language proficiency is acquired over time, and not overnight.
Most importantly, a definite timeline helps to ensure that policy implementation stays firmly on course.