MALAYSIA'S deputy education minister has said that speaking English in the workplace is 'weird' and harmful to the nation's culture and identity, a report said on Wednesday.
Mr Mohd Puad Zarkashi said employees in the private sector used English 99 per cent of the time and should switch to Bahasa Malaysia in order to show pride in the national language, the New Straits Times reported.
'This also occurs in government-linked companies where we have this weird culture of people speaking to each other in English instead of the national language,' he said at the launch of a linguistics seminar. 'We are polluting our own culture and identity as a nation,' he said.
'It would be difficult to strengthen the position of Bahasa Malaysia if this culture continued,' he added, urging Malaysians to emulate the French, Japanese and Koreans, who stuck to their own language.
The New Straits Times said Mr Mohd Puad also criticised young people for using a mix of English and Bahasa Malaysia in SMS text messages and on the Internet.He called on the nation's leaders to use Bahasa Malaysia for all meetings and events and said that when he receives letters in English he returns them and asks for them to be written in the national language.
It is hard to imagine the Deputy Education Minister being able to understand this piece of advice given by Vikram Nehru, chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific for the World Bank:
THE World Bank said on Wednesday that Malaysia must introduce sweeping reforms if it wants to achieve its ambitious goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020.
'To reach the 2020 developed status, the World Bank is proposing a four-pillar strategy,' Mr Vikram Nehru, chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific, told reporters.
'Malaysia must specialise the economy further, improve the skills of its workforce, make growth more inclusive and strengthen public finances,' he told reporters at the launch of a report on the Malaysian economy.
The World Bank said Malaysia's economy will shrink 2.3 per cent this year but rebound to a 4.1 per cent expansion in 2010.
Mr Nehru said the South-east Asian economy was on track to grow between 5.6 to 5.9 per cent in 2011 and 2012.The report said Malaysia faced the challenge of shifting from an upper-middle economy to a high-income economy.
Nationalistic hubris and fervour may be a form of gallery-pandering. But, it is tragi-comedy in the context of the difficult and challenging task of re-positioning Malaysia's economic competitiveness.
We are heading towards a rock and a hard place, as the Americans say, when we are no longer a low-income destination and, nowhere near a high-income sophistication in terms of human resources and skill sets.
The significantly lower amount of foreign direct investments is a telling sign that Malaysia's previous comparative advantage as a low-income, low- to mid-skilled manufacturing hub is waning.
What this country needs are political leaders who understand what's going on, not some opportunistic superficial mouthpiece who only spew nonsensical, inane and unhelpful remarks that serves only to rankle the rest of us who are trying to get the job done.