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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

No shame, but please learn

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Dear deputy prime minister (DPM), please allow me to join the torrent of comments on your recent speech at the United Nations General Assembly. This is not to belittle or ridicule you but to boost your image as well as Malaysia’s.
Imagine how little we know of our leaders. Before your UN speech, I actually thought that you were fluent in English. I have heard you speaking English before, perhaps not in full sentences but certainly there were sprinkles of English words and phrases here and there. I believe you could probably write English much better than you speak or read.
I remember the late Lee Kuan Yew was not able to speak and converse in Mandarin and other Chinese dialects when he first started out. But he engaged a private tutor to teach him for an hour or so each day. He was determined to learn fast so that he could be more effective when interacting with his constituencies and also with leaders from China he was cultivating then. He knew then China was important to Singapore as was the West.
Some have advised you to speak in Malay if you find English a challenge. This is probably a better option for you right now. But Malaysia is a small country. We probably can’t behave like China and Russia where their leaders will just stick to their own languages. Unlike us, they have larger economies and political clout to dictate and hold on their own.
For Malaysia, I think our top leaders must always be cosmopolitan and multilingual with fluency in at least one international language such as English. This will increase the stature and effectiveness of our leaders enormously.
As the DPM, I think you have the resources and time available to you to learn English like how Lee Kuan Yew learned Chinese. Engage a good tutor who is able to teach you to speak, read and write English, for each of these entails different skills and ability.-Mkini

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