The Star Malaysia
We can learn Chinese right here
Malaysia has a complete Chinese education system. There is no need to fork out enormous sums of money to send our people all the way to the Middle Kingdom to learn the language.
IN recent years, many Malaysian government officials have travelled to China to pick up Mandarin.
Learning the language in its birthplace will most positively be a valuable experience. But how much can one pick up within seven days?
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s trip to China has seen Malaysia securing a RM55bil loan from Beijing. Apparently, China has now become our biggest source of funding, and our government officials will have a lot more opportunities to mingle with their Chinese counterparts in the future.
To get close to China, it will be advantageous if the officials have a good command of the Chinese language.
China’s meteoric rise as an economic power has made Mandarin a high-value economic language. The launch of the Belt and Road Initiative has catalysed the cooperation between China and regional countries with the Chinese language being a convenient communication medium.
Learning the Chinese language has become a trend in much of the world in recent years, with many in the European Union, United States and African nations like Nigeria and Tanzania rushing to learn it.
Some of these countries started Mandarin classes as soon as Beijing opened its doors to the outside world.
Our neighbouring countries, like Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar, have also been sending their officials to learn Chinese at Huaqiao University in Fujian since 2005. Over the past 11 years, these countries have produced more than 500 Chinese language experts.
If our officials are there to learn the language for diplomatic or political reasons, I’m afraid they would pick up nothing but for the most superficial aspects of the language.
As a matter of fact, Malaysia is way more fortunate than our neighbours because we have a complete Chinese education system.
If our government was a little more farsighted, funding the construction of Chinese primary schools and independent Chinese high schools, allowing these schools to admit more non-Chinese students, will be a better idea. We may not even need to fork out enormous sums of money to send our people all the way to China to learn the language.
The government should have respected the will of the local Chinese community, recognise the UEC certificate and allow independent high school graduates to serve in public institutions to assist the government with their linguistic talent, instead of turning them away. The ones who benefit from this are rival foreign governments.
If more independent high school graduates are allowed to join the civil service, it will allow Malay government officials to have close encounters with the Chinese language and culture in their day-to-day lives.
This will be a whole lot more effective than sending these government officials to Beijing for just a week or two.
More Malay and Indian Malaysians are beginning to learn Chinese. This will not only enhance their own competitiveness in our globalised world but will bridge the gap among people of different ethnic backgrounds in this country while dispelling unnecessary misunderstandings and conflicts owing to cultural and religious differences.
Unfortunately the government has not paid much attention to the development of Chinese education in the country.
If the government recognises the importance of the Chinese language to the country’s development, it should have attached more importance to the development of local Chinese primary schools and recognised the UEC certificate.
Why learn Chinese in China now that we have an indisputable edge in Chinese education? — Sin Chew Daily/Asia News Network