To all those reading my piece, take heart. This is not a quarrel about the use of English, but just actually why the need to use English.

And the odd thing about it, is that when we quarrel about English we tend to do so, also in English!

However, central to many of the arguments against the use of the English language, is that it is foreign, alien, and unsuitable for Asians and cynically of all, that it is a colonial remnant.

Even if it is all the above mentioned, the last premise makes English no different from French, Japanese, German, Dutch or Spanish. That's because all these nations have between themselves alternated, to seize colonies and subjugate native peoples.

But the crux of this problem actually lies with both PAS and DAP, who contrary to many rational arguments, have sought out their emotions in wanting to change the current status quo.

Frog in the well

Lest they succeed, the Malaysia poised for development, will contrary to expectations wound up, by default of turning into the least developed nation by 2020.

This is how it will happen. To begin with, because Malay lacks the wide vocabulary English does in identifying scientific and technical terms, Malaysia will not only end up losing its edge in the world but also beyond as the world continues in its modernisation.

Then if that is not enough its' diplomatic forays into the outside world stands to suffer from the widespread lack of English usage. And to the extent that the damage becomes known, Malaysia will wind up like the proverbial frog in the well knowing only itself and not the world it deals with it.

At least, that may be the readings what one summarily gets. And has been constantly proven elsewhere in the world and virtually lost onto both PAS and DAP, English is that great unifier in nations rent apart by linguistic differences?

So why can't PAS and DAP tap on some of the known merits of English than harp something that appeals perhaps to base instincts of race and language?

Even if PAS and DAP do not see it that way, can they just not look around to nations such as Sri Lanka where because of language, or rather the lack of a neutral one, a nation is at war?

Or for that matter why should that be anything alarming? Don't anyone with nationalistic tendencies first begin from the syrupy and hypnotic heartstrings of language, after all?

In case if it isn't that what PAS and DAP should not be mindless to, the mere mention or insinuation that a native language is to be replaced, is what decided whether a genie remains within or without a bottle.

To start an old argument afresh, there really is no alternative to a language that commands s wide vocabulary base and easily manageable syntax,

Whether they realise it or not, their actions can only inadvertently bring about the eventual de-linking of Malaysia from the rest of the world.

Co-existence of languages

If English is indeed replaced what goes with it, are all its street signs in English. Then ends all official and unofficial interactions, which for ages have taken place in English and which if replaced by a native tongue will mean the loss of its neutral and unifying component.

It will also mean the loss of its calming effect for a nation as multiracial and multicultural as Malaysia, that recently as some 40 years ago was scarred by race riots promoted from among others, on the premise of language and race.

But to address a point possibly felt by both opposition political parties, there exists no compelling evidence that English and Bahasa cannot co-exist, if the state adequately protects the indigenous language and all its citizens.

The diversity of Malaysia from all outward appearances is innate. The commitment to a common destiny requires a common vernacular and that is English.

The challenge for Malaysia is to use English as such an instrument, than through its submersion into American and British cultures.

If Europe is daring to experiment it from its neutral component to unify the continent, surely can Malaysia.

Stick to English, PAS and DAP. And everything will be fine. And finally, keep your emotions in check.


Jaya Prakash lectures in journalism in Singapore

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