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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Bahasa Malaysia and the medical profession

I am always amused by Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon and his comments in news reports.
Over a caning incident that I am familiar with, Chong accused Persatuan Jaringan Ibubapa Pencinta Pendidikan Bahasa Zhong Hua (Jiazhong) of going to the press instead of writing to his ministry.
However, Jiazhong adviser, Edward Neoh, immediately rebutted Chong, saying that scores of letters had been written to the ministry, especially over the collection of the goods and services tax (GST) by schools on behalf of vendors, which have not been responded to.
Even the response from the ministry to complainants is a standard letter that says investigation has been carried out and corrective measures have been put in place. Complainants are left in the dark of the outcome of their complaints.
That, for your information, is the reason why many complainants, after exhausting the normal channels, decide to go to the press as the fifth pillar.
Controversy over medical graduates
The only answer that Chong could provide to the press was to say that the ministry could help to arrange for medical graduates to do one subject, so that they could meet the requirement for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) Bahasa Malaysia (BM) qualification in order to serve in public hospitals.
My question is: Who doesn’t know that? As an MCA-appointed deputy minister, Chong (photo) should address the question whether passing the SPM Bahasa Malaysia examination is a requirement for medical doctors.
While I fully agree that, like other professionals offering their services to the masses, medical doctors need to be fluent in Bahasa Malaysia. But, about passing the SPM Bahasa Malaysia, I am doubtful!
This is where Chong has missed the point. Passing the BM paper alone does not necessarily mean that the candidate has mastered the language. In fact, the doctor who speaks to an ordinary person from the street does not need to have that high level of language command to explain the disease to the patient.
From my observation, Chong was not addressing the real issue. He courts more controversies by skirting around the real issues. Instead of solving the issue, he complicates it. Now, medical doctors have no excuse not to pass their SPM Bahasa Malaysia.
We all know that the learning of the language takes time and comes with a lot of practice. I can say that, although I had a P8 and subsequently a P7 in my SPM Bahasa Malaysia, today I am still as good in the use of the written and spoken language, which is also why my results caught the teachers by surprise.
I have written scores of letters in Malay, which I believe are far more readable than what some Malays can write. This takes years of learning and polishing the language for me to reach this stage.
Therefore, for comparison, I think the stand of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman makes more sense to me. It is sufficient for medical doctors to speak some level of Malay with their patients.
Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali, as usual, is the “clown” who wants to take the Ministry of Health to court, as if there are not enough clowns around.

To get medical graduates to sit for an SPM Bahasa Malaysia examination is as good as saying that they have to go back to learn the puisi, pantun, tatabahasa, simpulan bahasa and all the intricacies of the language. By the time they pass their SPM Bahasa Malaysia paper, they can start giving ceramah sessions as well.

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.- Mkini

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