This article is actually a response to invitation to give my comments by another blogger on this article http://deminegara.blogspot.com/2008/11/racial-polarisation-and-forging-of.html
Thanks for inviting me to comment. I think I missed all the fun. It took me quite sometime to read through this extra long article. Perhaps DemiNegara should come up with a book ala TDM on his blog.
The issue and comments thereafter have digressed quite a bit from the original article, I think.
Anyway. I quite agree with the article and assertions that Bahasa Malaysia should be given it's adequate respect and used as a unifying tool of all races in the country, hence was my suggestion that we should only have one school and close down all vernacular schools.
This has been done in Singapore although their medium of instruction is in English. I don't see any Indians or Chinese in Singapore losing their culture of identity by just going to same school. This is a proven fact and education extremist in Malaysia conveniently omit this fact when arguing their case.
I am a Indian with Malayalam as my mother tongue, a national school product and have had unique experience of studying in a various different schools due to the nature of my father's job.
The most unique experience was when me and my brothers were the only non-malay in 2,000 student in a Felda school in Kota Tinggi in the late 80s. I think non-malays today would shudder to think of sending their children to such a school. This remains the point of contention by Education groups, extremist and parents for not sending their children to national schools.
Did I experience discrimination, yes I did but that's in the begining where students and teacher looked at me differently. We did get all the nasty stares, racist comments and even 'Keling' was used regularly. As the months went by, we made friends with Malays there, played with them and even hanging out with them off school hours. We were also there in the Agama classes, joined in some religious related functions (can't remember what but i do remember having a meal with my malays friends in a Dulang).
We did end up being influenced by them, Our bahasa was better and even superior than the malays themselves, that includes the dialect. As teenager, it was not a surprise that we also started to follow the dressing and hair ala rock stars. Point to note that these were the Search And Wings era. I was hooked by the rock music and we even went to the extend of analysing their lyrics. On the other hand, we still spoke our mother tongue at home, watch tamils movies without fail and not fogetting the Tamil Radio Six.
At no point I felt threatened or being forced to accept anything, including the religion. In fact we learned to understand Islam better. My understanding and the message I get from the teachers at that infacy stage is that there's nothing wrong with Islam, it's just the people who proclaim themselves Islamic and promote their own agenda the wrong way. I think the problem remains the same today. I also think that the over-islamisation of some schools and massive negative publicity they recieve when something goes wrong in national schools, prompts parents to run for cover and their cover is Tamil and Chinese Schools.
Coming back to the language, I am, at times (now becoming more regular) ashamed at the way the language is spoken by non-malays, even by non-malay graduates. I understand that at least a credit in Bahasa malaysia is required to enter unversities but then if you look at the quality of spoken Bahasa from the graduates, some are downright atrocious. This I believe, is a result of Bahasa Malaysia being taught only to pass exams begining from primary school, hence the verbal/spoken Bahasa were not given equal emphasis.
I agree that ASTRO and various radio channels available made things worse. Those days, before ASTRO came into the picture, I remember the during prime time,we are made to watch news in Bahasa Malaysia/Melayu or at one point Baku. Now we have a choice and naturally, non-malays switch to news in Tamil or Mandarin. The government, in their effort to please non-malays, allowed this freedom to continue until now where non malays do not watch Bahasa Malaysia news unless there's some controversial news in the town.
I have written on teaching maths and science in English,I do support the policy as it would definitely benefit everyone and would prove to uplift the socio-economic condition of the majority poor, regardless of race, in the long run, provided adequate support and structures are in place to undertake the effort without compromising the status of Bahasa Malaysia. The compulsory pass in Bahasa Malaysia and a Credit requirement to enter universities are a good measure to ensure students are forced to learn and master the language. In Malaysia, we may have to use this form of force to make things happen.
I would have probably repeated some of the point made by others and readers would have been bored by now. I will end my comments with this; (please apologise if there are any mistakes)
Bahasa Malaysia perlu dihormati dan diberi pengiktirafan sepenuh hati oleh semua kaum jika kaum kaum yang ada dinegara ini menganggap dirinya sebagai warganegara Malaysia yang taat dan setia. Taat and setia juga bermaksud menghormati asal usul dan suasana negara masyarakat majmuk. Inilah kesilapan TDM. TDM kata 'Melayu Mudah Lupa', saya ingin perbetulkannya, 'Rakyat Melaysia mudah lupa'.