My me­chanic can give tips to doc­tors on how to pass lan­guage exam

New Straits Times - - Opinion -

I HAD car prob­lems the other day. So, I took my car to my me­chanic, Seng.

Un­for­tu­nately, Seng was oc­cu­pied, so he as­signed one of his work­ers to at­tend to my car. Not com­fort­able with some­one new work­ing on my car, I made my wor­ries known.

“Seng, pekerja you tu okay ke (Seng, is your worker any good)?” I said.

“Baguih baguih. Dia hor, cepat be­la­jar punya bu­dak. Ger­enti tarak prob­lem punya (He is good. He is a fast learner and there will be no prob­lems),” said Seng.

“You janji punya ha (I am tak­ing your word for it),” I said with a smile.

A few min­utes later, a man in his early 20s walked up to my car and drove it into the work­shop.

As the car was parked over the pit, ready for the tyres to be changed, he got out of the car and be­gan speak­ing in Can­tonese to his boss.

I was sur­prised to wit­ness a young Malay man speak the Chi­nese di­alect with such ease.

A while later, he ap­proached me: “Kakak tak nak pergi minum­minum dulu? Lagi se­jam lebih baru siap (Sis, don’t you want to go and have a drink first? It may take an hour or so).”

“Okay lah. Kalau dah siap to­long teli­fon ya (Please call when it’s ready),” I said, be­fore ad­ding: “Nak tanya sikit ya, adik me­mang dah lama be­la­jar cakap Kan­to­nis ke (Can I ask? Have you al­ways been flu­ent in Can­tonese)?”

He laughed. “Saya orang Perak kak, baru mula kerja sini. Se­belum ni tak tahu cakap Kan­to­nis. Tapi dekat sini boss pun Cina dan cus­tomer ke­banyakan­nya Cina, jadi saya pun be­la­jar­lah (I’m from Perak. I wasn’t able to con­verse in Chi­nese prior to work­ing here but my boss is a Chi­nese and most of our cus­tomers are Chi­nese, so I had to learn the lan­guage).”

Amazed, I asked how long it took for him to be able to con­verse with such pro­fi­ciency, to which he claimed five months.

Walk­ing to a ko­pi­tiam for cof­fee, I thought about the com­pul­sory re­quire­ment for med­i­cal of­fi­cers to ob­tain a pass in SPM Ba­hasa Malaysia pa­per, which many doc­tors were com­plain­ing about.

While the Malay me­chanic took only five months to mas­ter Can­tonese, our med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als seem to be com­plain­ing about passing a lan­guage that they have been ex­posed to since birth.

On the other hand, we have many Malaysian stu­dents who spend a year or two mas­ter­ing for­eign lan­guages, such as Ja­panese and Ger­man, with no qualms be­fore pro­ceed­ing to the coun­tries to be­gin their ed­u­ca­tion.

Why, then, is it so hard for our med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als to han­dle one ex­am­i­na­tion pa­per that re­quires only a 40 per cent pass? Are they ig­no­rant? Or are they in­com­pe­tent?

Doc­tors can’t be dumb. But then again, doc­tors should not be ig­no­rant too, should they?

Oh, well, per­haps our doc­tors who are hav­ing trou­ble passing their Ba­hasa pa­per should look into tak­ing a class with my young me­chanic. I am sure he can share tips on how to learn a lan­guage.

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