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.

The Star Malaysia - - FOCUS - By TAN POH KHENG

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

High-value lan­guage: Learn­ing the Chi­nese lan­guage has be­come a trend in much of the world in re­cent years.

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