Malaysiakini Letter

Cut the slack on Maszlee Malik

Jaya Seelen Anthony

LETTER | The practice of having knowledge of Mandarin as a job requirement has been there for decades. In fact, I recently saw an advertisement by an established bank seeking to employ only Malaysian Chinese for the position of sales consultant to promote and sell unit trust.

Presumably, that requirement was there because the bank would want Mandarin-speaking candidates to join their team. We are too familiar with advertisements for job positions in the mainstream newspapers seeking candidates with Mandarin fluency as a job requirement in many areas of the industry.

Some have argued that such a requirement is necessary for the commercial world and are dictated by market forces, which inarguably are controlled by the Chinese, hence the need to be fluent in Mandarin.

I respect the Federal Constitution and I have always accepted that the Malay language is our official language, and as such, I find it extremely distasteful that such a language requirement for job applications are still being justified as necessary. It’s even more repugnant to find some key Gerakan, MCA and DAP leaders justifying the necessity of such an obviously unjust and unfair requirement.

Our Federal Constitution is very clear that there shall not be any discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, unless it is allowed by the Constitution itself on certain permissible grounds. Be that as it may, I believe that such a language requirement for job placements is unconstitutional and cannot be supported by our leaders.

For one, it is clearly spelt out in our Constitution that the national language is the Malay language and any job requirement which makes a particular language other than national language as necessary is inconsistent with the Federal Constitution.

Lopsided and unfair quotas

I am against the lopsided and unfair quotas being used in the matriculation intakes and other discriminatory policies that are currently being applied in our country.

Some of our current leaders, particularly from the DAP, have for several decades been critical of discriminatory policies and they have been quick to criticise discriminatory policies, such as the one regarding the matriculation intake.

But why are the same leaders defending and justifying an equally discriminatory practice, where a particular language is being used as an instrument to discriminate? Wouldn’t it be better for these leaders to call for the enactment of a law against discrimination?

These leaders were up in arms when Minister of Education Maszlee Malik said that there were inequalities in job opportunities, with the fluency in Mandarin being made as a prerequisite for job applications.

While I don’t agree with Maszlee on the percentage of quotas being applied in the matriculation intake and then linking it to bumiputera employment in the private sector, as these are separate issues, but honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with what the education minister’s saying on the Mandarin language requirement as he was only stating an obviously truthful fact!

The job market should open to all races in Malaysia. Language must not be a pre-requisite for employment in any sector, unless it’s for a job vacancy for a talk show host or a deejay in a vernacular language.

I don’t see why a Malaysian who is not fluent in Mandarin will not be able to sell unit trust in Malaysia, where Malay is the official language - unless he’s required to sell unit trust in China! As Malaysians, we are duty bound under the Federal Constitution to learn to speak and understand the national language and conduct our business affairs in the national language. Period!

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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