Malaysia, Language & Education... and Offshore Outsourcing

Malaysians are just too focused on race. Government policies are focused on race. The word Bumiputera and Malay is over-emphasized. The Malay language is over-emphasized. Preserve the language in schools we can, but let us also look into the quality of education shall we. Why can't the medium of teaching be made elective. Let the people choose what they want and end the issue. Why can't we kill this problem as soon as possible and focus on improving the quality of education instead. Kebangsaan schools are just horrible in terms of quality. If time were to turn back I would get into a jenis kebangsaan school instead of a kebangsaan school.

Below: Mongkok, sunrise.

I am seated at a nice restaurant during dinner with a friend somewhere in Kowloon Bay. Business is good; each table of the 50-table restaurant is occupied. Waiters and waitresses rush to serve. Once a while a waiter with a Peking duck whizzes pass me. At this point in time Hong Kong's unemployment rate is 5.3% (Malaysia- below 5%). Hong Kong's GDP is 5%, compared to Malaysia's negative 4%.  I don’t know what is Malaysia’s ranking but the natural-resource-constrained Hong Kong is the 13th largest exporter in the world. And they just have 7 million people.

Below: Someone else's Peking Duck

"You were educated in Malay?" This question from my friend interrupted my thoughts.

"Yes," I answered. "I'm from Malaysia; naturally I will be educated in Malay with a mix of English. Malay language is mainstream. It's normal."

Friend replied politely, "True, but China's economy is big and isn't it good to know Chinese too. I think Malaysia failed to consider certain aspects of education and language?" Duh, I did not have an answer to this. I know that, back at my office, all my contracts and industry guidelines are in English. My continuing professional development training is in English. How on earth would I be able to understand the technical journals with merely a good command of Malay or Chinese right.

In the recent years, I'm not sure whether Mister Education Minister knows this, regional call centres and service centres have been set up in Malaysia. Shell, HSBC, Dell, BASF, BHP Billington, Standard Chartered, IBM (11 centres in Malaysia!), Microsoft, Intel, BMW, Crown, American Express. Did you know that as at this year Malaysia has 600 call centres and hundreds of shared services centres  employing more than 35,000 people. Revenue from shared services was RM5 billion in 2007. This market is growing and what makes Malaysia an attractive hub compared to India, China and the Philippines? Many Malaysians can speak multiple languages while being technically qualified in their respective fields. Because these skills are easily obtainable in Malaysia, it lowers the wage cost. For instance, an English-speaking competent marketing manager in a multi-national company in Vietnam could easily cost employers USD7K per month. It costs much lower in Malaysia for that same level of hiring.

Somehow I can't find Malaysia's education system gearing up the younger generation for global trade and economic developments in Malaysia. Malaysia is ranked the world's third most attractive avenue for outsource services after China and India. I don't think we have the luxury of time to debate over the use of language in schools and also the change of teaching medium every few years. The facts are in our hands. So, Mister Education Minister and all UMNO Minister goons, think properly before screwing up our entire future. Malaysians need to be strong in multi-lingual skills. Let's just not focus on Malay language shall we.

NB. Other information on the shared services industry can be found at the MITI website here.


  1. Chinese vernacular schools have been blamed by the very politicians who play the divide and rule game for disrupting national unity

    I was brought up with a Chinese language base education system and I dare say it instills me with better skill sets and attitude compared to a sekolah kebangsaan

    yet I am still taught to love my country and Malaysians, we were tuaght to celebrate and appreciate the diversity of our country and yet politicians who trade on racial captial are the very one that is tearing the nation apart.

    the top 2 economic languages in the world is English and Chinese. Learing these languages to make Malaysia a more competitive economic entity cannot be construed as unpatriotic.

    simple logic

  2. Dear Lee Wee Tak,

    However great a vernacular school system can be, we cannot compromise the need for a national type school system for the sake of building a malaysian psyche and long term unity. The focus should be on how to elevate national schools to become comparable to chinese schools and not perpetuating the vernacular schools

  3. dear anom,

    i respect and welcome your comments. your view certainly have its merits and I believe great many would agree with you

    for me, let's sort of 2 things first

    politicians that is destroying malaysian psyche and long term unity.

    the second thing is also what you say elevate national schools to become comparable to chinese schools

    Chinese are practical. education is a service industry and Chinese would go to the best service provider

    Chinese only need 3 things from national schools
    1) provision of education that made their children viable economic components

    2) fair treatment to students regardless of race

    3) the chance to appreciate the goodness of chinese literature, the wisdom of ancient chinese scholas, poets and thinkers

    I have studied 3) and I can vouch that non-Chinese would benefit from learning about them

    it is not of religious tone but of great philosophies like, when I was in form 4, I learnt to recite the ancient poem which was an advise by a top prime minister to the king

    "worry before your people worry, and be happy and content after your people are happy and content"

    - isn't that wonderful?

    national schools can have electives where students in addition to fixed subjects, can choose a few options. that would make our national schools attractive

    however, I am pessimistic

    even our local unis are runned by small minded people...what do you expect from schools then?

  4. The Americans are learning Chinese in schools now.
    Welcome to the real world, dude!

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Dear Anons,
    Thanks for your comments.

    I'm merely criticizing policies made and not any race. Please understand this. I will be removing comments which directly insults any race.

  7. Resident and I strongly condemn all form of racist, baseless and inflamatory remarks in the comments box

    this blog hopes to promote intellectual advancement via logically, insightful and intelligent discussion

    i do wonder if this is a ploy by cybertroopers to plant seeds to suggest this blog as a "laman yang menghasut" by stirring up heated replies

    I remember a couple of days before YB Teresa Kok's wrongful detention, some idiot came in and started posting wild accusations in the comment box totally unrelated to his nonsense

    I remember this well as I crossed swords with him (intellectually, in case SB is reading this)

    Please-lah! The blog contributors here are professionals and present no physical harm to anyone except themselves by over eating and not sleeping