This research examines the role of the English language in Malaysia, a past English colony in South East Asia from the 18th to the 20th century. My research question asks: to what extent can English be considered a unifying dialect in Malaysia? To be able to approach the problem, the question has been narrowed down into two parts: British can be a unifying dialect of Malaysia; and British cannot be a unifying vocabulary of Malaysia. The affect of English in the lives of Malaysians such as daily life, work place and education has been reviewed.

There is a dichotomy in views whether English may become a unifying vocabulary in Malaysia. One area believes that British has already become an important part of Malaysian individuality, particularly due to its colonial past and its own current status of 1 of the languages of training in primary, extra and tertiary education as well as the position of “business language”. You can find another view, mainly organised by the Malay nationalists, opposed to such opinions due to the fact that there surely is a huge distance in the English language proficiency between folks from the metropolitan and rural areas. Three interviews have been conducted within the methods of analysis, however the most influential interviewee was Ram memory Mohann, an English educator in a Malaysian supplementary school. Books, information articles and academic journals have been used as well. The primary sources for this research are written by Malaysian professors of linguistics, Azirah Hashim and Loga Baskaran.

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It is concluded that English can be a unifying language in Malaysia. The final outcome drawn is based on the actual fact that English takes on an important role in the lives of Malaysians, private industries and education in Malaysia. Most of all, British is also seen as a language that integrates all Malaysians by the non-Malays. Term matter: 298


Malaya (now Malaysia) was a country that had been occupied by Western european superpowers including the Portuguese, Dutch and the English since the 16th century. However, the ones that really made a linguistic impact on the land were the British. Even though they still left and granted self-reliance to Malaya in 1957, one legacy they have left the country is their words, English.

English had been the official terminology of the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay State governments and the Unfederated Malay Expresses since the 1800s through the occupation of THE UK and also dished up as the official words of Malaysia for ten years following the nation’s freedom in 1957. However, to be able to market “national unity” and improve the involvement of Bumiputra (Malay-ethnic and indigenous people) in tertiary education, the Malaysian authorities removed British from its public role and promoted the utilization of Bahasa Malaysia (Malaysian or Malay dialect) in 1967.

Nevertheless, British remains a dominant second terminology in Malaysia. It really is still widely used in private companies. For the last 2 decades, the position of English has been “a much debated-upon and jostled-about issue”. In this essay, I will check out the role of British in Malaysia today. My research question is as follows; from what extent can British be a unifying words in Malaysia? “Unifying dialect” must be identified in order to answer the question. In this case, “unifying language” identifies the terminology that joins the people of Malaysia all together. I am going to discuss how British is utilized in many areas of Malaysian lives in order to answer my research question. Moreover, the terms of instruction in Malaysia will also serve as a springboard to investigate the role of British in Malaysia.

Even though British is no longer an official terminology in Malaysia and therefore some might argue that Malaysia is no Anglophone nation, the widespread utilization of British in Malaysia is an undeniable fact that is beyond any question. British is a small business language and a terminology used among normal Malaysians, particularly in urban areas. Moreover, it is widely known that “many of the older generation [in Malaysia] speak [English] very well. ” Some elites even dispute that British and Malay play an equally important role “to help unite individuals and create a distinctive national consciousness”. British “is used for a variety of functions in professional and communal trades not only with the international community but also within the society”. In addition, even though all English-medium colleges had been improved to Malay-medium institutions in the 1980s, the execution of PPSMI (teaching and learning Science and Math in British) policy in all Malaysian public institutions since Key One implies that the federal government is not only regarding about the globalisation of the country, but also with the importance of the terms in Malaysia herself. Hence, the use of English as a local terms in Malaysia somewhat than a global language is enough to make Malaysia an ‘unofficial’ Anglophone country.

English can be considered a unifying terms in Malaysia

English words is the global lingua franca, a terms for diplomacy and international trade. Workforces with good command word of British will put the united states a huge edge on earth.

According to Braj Kachru’s three-circle model of World Englishes that categorises World Englishes into three concentric circles, such as Inner Group representing the original base of English; Outer Group that representing countries where British is not an official terms but performs an important role; and Expanding Circle, including countries that use it as a spanish and then for only limited purposes, Malaysia is outlined under the Outer Circle. This model suggests that we now have a sizeable amount of men and women who use British as an initial language. Regarding to Azirah Hashim, a Teacher of Linguistics in School of Malaya, English “can be used for a number of functions in professional and communal trades not only with the international community but also within the society”. The quote instructs us that Malaysians do not only use it as an international language, but some perceive British as an area language as well.

Hashim’s view is not her own wishful thinking. It really is evident almost everywhere in Malaysia, in both the Malaysian education and lives of Malaysia citizens. ‘Broken British’ is very commonly employed by taxi drivers, pedestrian pedlars, food hawkers, gardeners, garbologists, florists and food caterers. For example, phrases such as ‘Buy 1 Free 1’ or ‘RM 5 for 2’ are always noticeable in Malaysia’s local supermarkets, departmental stores and pasar malam, a Malay phrase for ‘nights market’. It indicates that even for individuals who are not highly educated, each of them have the passion to speak British because “the degree of international integration is simply moving in leaps and bounds and man-on-the-street must survive. ” Most of all, it shows that “English is getting more currency” within Malaysian modern culture, especially in cities.

After the PPSMI coverage was applied in 2003, the decision was described by some journalists as “revive the glory of the dialect” and “reclaim British in education”, which “appears to allude to recognition of British as not simply a global or international dialect, not simply a European terms, but also as a Malaysian language”. Furthermore, even though there aren’t any standard figures available, it is known that there are sizeable numbers of English private kindergartens in Malaysia, specifically in cities. For non-English medium privately-owned kindergartens, English is always trained as one of the subjects aside from their mother tongue. Relating to a Malaysian Indian who is merely willing to be identified as Subramaniam, “My children are all studying in English-medium kindergarten because I understand only a good demand of English will lead them to success and I’d like these to build their basis being that they are young. ” This comment reflects the fact that the Malaysian parents are aware of the value of English nowadays as well as Malaysian contemporary society itself and they know that a good command word of English will put their children in a much better position nowadays. In addition, British is generally educated 280 minutes weekly in public schools, which is even more than the teaching time for the senior category in Xiamen International College, an English-medium and IB World university. It must be mentioned that in Malaysian education, all high school students in public classes must learn English literature and English understanding, alternatively than beginner English class. In case the coaching time of English in a bilingual education is even more than an English-medium school, it indicates that English plays an similarly important role for both Ministry of Education of Malaysia as well as an IB World school. However, it must be mentioned that the level of English comprehension and/or literature might be lower than that of IB Diploma course, and therefore the statistics do not suggest everything.

According to a well-known Malaysian Indian journalist and politician, the later MGG Pillai, “those who know English are better positioned for jobs than those without”. That was his comment respect the value of British in his article written in 1994. His examination was right i’m all over this nowadays. In major companies in Malaysia, the one language used in a company reaching is English. In the mean time, some meetings in governmental departments are conducted in English as well, but mainly depending on vocabulary preferred by the top of the division. Reports such as twelve-monthly reviews or financial information are either in British or in both English and Malay. For example, Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier of Malaysia, presents its financial reports to their personnel only in British. Meanwhile, it is known that “the words a airfare attendant will use is English”, even for home flights although the national language is Malay. Whenever a pilot or co-pilot announces the latest information about the flight, English is definitely preferred for both domestic and international flights. If private companies favor English and British language is also widely used in governmental departments although Malay is meant to be the vocabulary of education, it explains to us that British does play an equally important role in today’s Malaysia. In addition, “English is no longer regarded as a competitive edge but a simple requirement of jobseekers”. In 2005, the Malaysian authorities conducted a review of almost 60, 000 Malaysian graduates who had been unemployed. It had been also unveiled in the review that “81 % of the unemployed went to public universities where the medium of instruction in many classes is Malay. ” In addition, in line with the senior expert of Alpha System Sdn Bhd, a Malaysian full service communication organization, “Lots of the [graduates] are turned down five minutes into an interview due to their atrocious command of [British]. ” Those illustrations show that Malaysians with insufficient proficiency in British will be at a serious disadvantage in Malaysian world. It also shows that English is slowly but surely replacing Malay’s prominence in Malaysia, especially in private areas.

In addition, English is also quite typical in the lives of normal people in Malaysia. For instance, “no English terms entertainment import is ever before dubbed” and local television channels in Malaysia “screen a multitude of British cartoons, serials, dramas and videos in original dialect” with Malay subtitles only. You will find sizeable numbers of local English journals and newspapers such as Flavours, Sports Weekly, the Legend, New Strait Times, Business Times, sunlight, Motor Trader, Golf Malaysia, BPL and many others. Moreover, there are numerous well-known foreign publications such as Times, Reader’s Process, PC Magazine, and Newsweek discounted around Malaysia. The amounts of English newspapers all over Malaysia is exactly exactly like that of Malay vocabulary. Several foreign publishers even submit their own newspapers in ‘Malaysian version’ in English words such as FourFour Two and Top Gear from UK. In addition, British catalogs have dominated the two major bookstore chains in Malaysia, MPH Bookstore and Popular Bookstore. An British teacher, Ram memory Mohann, said that “Popular bookstore has around 65% of British books while English catalogs almost dominate MPH bookstores in Malaysia with around 90%” by citing interior options. Those different information and information do indicate that there is a large market for English viewers in Malaysia. However, it must be stressed that Mohann is only a teacher, not really a market job and his interior sources is probably not very reliable either. Nevertheless, it will always be known by Malaysians the dominance of English books in that either of these two bookstores or other bookstores is a fact that is beyond any question.

On 9th July 2009, the Ministry of Education announced that the PPSMI insurance plan will be empty starting 2012 by citing the percentage of students who achieved A to C for research “had dropped by around 4% in both urban and rural institutions”. Simply the overturn of the insurance policy means that science-based and math subject matter in Malaysian open public schools will be reverting back to Malay for government schools, Chinese for Chinese academic institutions and Tamil for Tamil schools. The reversal of the insurance policy has caused the maximum amount of debates as the people when the insurance policy was first applied in 2003. For instance, Azimah Abdul Rahim, the chairman of Parents Action Group for Education (Web page), questioned the reversal of the federal government with respect to all parents by sharing with the reporter that “there could be some institutions which would want to continue educating in English. I think there should be a choice. There are many Malaysians whose first dialect is English”. Furthermore, Lim Kit Siang, a visible opposition innovator in Malaysian politics, identified the decision as a “Raw Package going out of Malaysia stranded in the march towards global educational quality, brilliance and competitiveness”. Furthermore, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, the former Leading Minister of Malaysia who was simply known for his Malay nationalism and the first choice who, surprisingly, released the PPSMI insurance plan under his supervision, placed a poll regards the PPSMI abolishment and the result demonstrates “84 per cent want to preserve British as the terms medium for these content”. Mahathir also questions “how [the reversal of PPSMI] will help assimilate Malaysians”, which implies that British is not simply a medium of education for knowledge and math and business terminology in Malaysia, but at the same time a language which should help unify all Malaysians all together. However, it must be stressed that his view might be subjective as Lim is a innovator from opposition get together and the fact he was educated under British medium. In addition, as Mahathir mentions in his blog, the result of the poll might be slightly subjective as well since it “was conducted in the English language and British dialect speakers might be biased towards English”. Nevertheless, the views collected, which represent the parents and politicians, have emphasized the actual fact that a lot Malaysians believe it will be hard for their children to endure in the foreseeable future with lack of proficiency in British and also reflected the actual fact that English speakers and the terminology itself do play an important role in the today and future culture of Malaysia.

English can’t be a unifying words of Malaysia

While there is absolutely no doubt about the value of English in private sectors in Malaysia, it must be pressured that Malay has been the sole official terms of Malaysia since 1970 and the use of this language in various sectors is encouraged under the National Language Action. The Malay nationalists are specifically resistant to the increasing prominence of British in Malaysia, especially in education. This strong feeling have been shown by the Malay-ethnic people in a protest against the utilization of British in March 2009, which eventually caused the reversal of PPSMI insurance policy.

Supporters of PPSMI always utilize Singapore, the neighbouring country that was previously part of Malaysia, “for example of how vocabulary skills can be a key to a connecting local personnel and market sectors to global current economic climate”. However, the reversal of PPSMI could eventually undermine the role of British in Malaysia today and the near future because the students will have less opportunity to use the words in class in the future. Therefore, for the next generation, instead of English, there’s a possibility that Malay might end up being the language that is going to be trusted among professionals. Regarding to Muhyiddin Yassin, the minister of education Malaysia, , “only 8% of instructors were using British exclusively in classes while the use of [Malay terminology] was still common, specifically in rural areas” Muhyiddin’s matter unveils several problems in Malaysian education today – the difference between students from metropolitan and rural areas and the lack of proficiency in English among Malaysian local educators. Matching to Dr. Nor Hashimah Jalauddin, a professor in National School of Malaysia’s School of Words and Linguistics, “students in cities adjusted easier to the PPSMI weighed against students in rural areas” and this English is known as a “foreign language” and “third terms” for students in Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan, Terrengganu, Kedah and Perlis. She is persuaded that learning Math and Science in English is a “burden” for students because of their lack of effectiveness in English. In fact, it isn’t only a burden for students, even “the Malaysian teachers going mad teaching subjects in English” because “most Math and Technology teachers operating were trained under the National Language Policy”, which the language of teaching is Malay. Corresponding to Dr Khalil Idham Lim Abdullah, “while [the educators] are still grappling with the terms, they are required to show their students as well”. This claim is supported by Mohann as well, there are “75% of [Science and Math teachers] were been trained in Malay” and that “there may be hardly a huge improvement [in English for teachers] since [2003]”. Even though the figures given only identifies one particular institution, it does suggest that there are a sizable number of instructors who can’t use English fluently. In the event the educators can’t even speak fluent British, how can we expect the students to develop their dialect skill significantly and therefore how is dialect going to become the unifying terminology?

Even though English takes on an important role in Malaysia’s world today, the quantity of English speakers is rather limited. According to David Crystal, the full total number of English as First Words speakers in Malaysia was 1. 88% by 1994 as the number dropped by 0. 16% nine years later. In the mean time, the total volume of L1 and L2 speakers only rose from 31. 9% to 33. 2% within nine years and the rise is rather slight as well. 44The reports show that there are very few fluent speakers Malaysia and so English is obviously not a terms that is recognized by all Malaysians. ‘Unifying terminology’ should be the words that unites the complete nation in case British is not generally comprehended by all Malaysia people, how do it be the unifying terminology of the country?

The biggest problem that may threaten the position of British in Malaysia is the actual fact that British is a colonial legacy still left by the British which is obvious that the Malays have been looking to wipe off the storage of colonialism. For example, even although Malaysian authorities only removed English’s recognized role by 1967, ten years after independence, and removed all English-medium colleges only by 1972, the English’s elitist position in education and administration have been immediately “downgraded” in 1957. They think it is hard “in accepting that English could be an component in Malaysian national identity, in spite of its utilization in ethnical situations in Malaysia at present”. Instead, they consider “Malay is perfect for national identity and English is for progress as well as for wider communication”, which suggests the Malays believe that English should be used for globalisation and internationalisation rather than a local vocabulary. Thus, as Tan suggests, the actual fact that Malaysia is categorised under the Outer Circle means that “it is more appropriate to talk about [the role of English in Malaysia in] specific communities or parts of society rather than the entire country”.


English is an important words in both the history and current culture of Malaysia. Competence in British as a compulsory condition for employees generally in most private sectors plus some governmental departments has emphasized the increasing prominence of British in the united states. Moreover, the implementation of PPSMI coverage in 2003 has significantly increased the usage of English one of the new technology, especially those who find themselves teenagers now and can end up being the future backbone of the country. While the implementation of PPSMI policy indicates that fact the government is concerned about the value of English in the country, the debates among specialists and typical Malaysians regards the reversal of the plan also uncovers how significant the vocabulary is for people. In addition, the dominance of British books and publications in bookstores of Malaysia signifies that there is a huge market for English literature in Malaysia.

However, some Malaysians, specially the Malays, believe the sole terminology that can unify all Malaysians is the Malay vocabulary. The lack of qualified educators with fluent English is grounds why English is not a unifying language. In the meantime, the inequality of British skills between students from cities and rural areas demonstrates that English is not commonly realized by all Malaysians and therefore you won’t create nationwide unity. Aside from the skills of the educators and students, the rather low percentage of English speakers also shows the same problem in making British the unifying vocabulary in Malaysia.

All in all, even though this matter is still rather debatable, the conclusion drawn is the fact that English can be considered a unifying terms in Malaysia to some extent. English plays an important role in the lives of ordinary Malaysians, private areas and education in Malaysia. However, the consumption of Malay vocabulary is encouraged in public sectors. The overturn of PPSMI coverage in July 2009 has place the status of British in the country into doubt. Additionally, Malays consider their dialect should be “the tool to unite the complete nation” however the Indians and/or Chinese believe Malay words will create division among all Malaysians. They believe we ought to emulate the style of Singapore since British is a “neutral terminology” between all different ethnicities as it does not identify any of the races in Malaysia and therefore it will create the same society.