The education policy some three decades ago was not one of the government’s brightest sparks, according to Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem.
Choosing to be blunt with his description, the veteran politician called it “stupid”.
Adenan felt that it was unwise to neglect the English language and place too much emphasis on Bahasa Malaysia.
The veteran politician argued that the government should have emphasised on the importance of mastering both languages.
“Back then, it was decided that correspondences with the government if not in Bahasa Malaysia would not be entertained. How could you have a policy like that?
“That is why so many graduates these days could not get a job because they cannot speak proper English,” he was quoted as saying by Borneo Post.
Thirty years ago, jailed former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim held the education portfolio, where he drew criticism for among others introducing Bahasa Baku.
Citing Singapore as an example, Adenan said the main language there is English while importance is equally given to Mandarin and the Malay language.
“We have to do international trade, and all contracts will be in English.
“Let’s be practical, and that’s why I say Sarawak must promote English together with Bahasa (Malaysia) at the same time,” he added.
The chief minister also expressed doubt that Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) could translate all the scientific papers and articles produced on a daily basis.
He noted that hundreds and thousands of books on science and mathematics are in English.”Are we going to translate all of them? Why do we have to do it twice when you can do it once?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Adenan also urged young Sarawakians to opt for technical education, given that industrialisation would create more technical jobs.
“We provide cheap electricity because of Murum and Bakun dams. When we attract foreign investments, technical skills will be required,” he said.