Abang Johari rings the bell to launch the symposium. Seen are Manyin (fourth left), Dr Annuar (third left) and Sudarsono (left). — Photo by Chimon Upon
KUCHING: Sarawak must produce talents who are sought after by multi-national companies or risk seeing more unemployed graduates.
Besides having the necessary qualifications, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said they must also be proficient in the English language.
“We must produce talents who are employable by multi-national companies otherwise we produce unemployed graduates,” he said when launching the inaugural Sarawak English Language Education Symposium (Seles) 2017 at a leading hotel here yesterday.
Besides promoting the use of English among students, more efforts must be put in to make the working population realise the importance of mastering the lingua franca of the world, the Chief Minister reminded.
Quoting language researcher Robert L Cooper, he said: “If we want to enable a person to use English, then we must put him or her in situations which will demand the use of English.”
According to Abang Johari, this is why Sarawak has adopted English as one of the official languages (apart from Bahasa Malaysia) in the state.
“English language is not exclusively the language of the Anglo-Saxons,” he said, adding that his predecessor the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem had stressed the importance of English in Sarawak as enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“I will continue to pursue this policy to ensure that Sarawakians are always proficient in the language.”
Abang Johari pointed out that Sarawakians had to be pragmatic and recognise the importance of English in order to succeed internationally while maintaining Bahasa Malaysia as their national and official language.
To shine in the global arena, he said they must master “what is currently the global language of business and technology”.
“As Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said recently, ‘Mastering English is inevitable. Like it or not, English is a prerequisite in today’s world, and without English, Malaysians can only be ‘jaguh kampung’ and lack the ability to penetrate the international market’.”
He lauded the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research (MESTR) for organising the three-day symposium which served as a platform for international experts to share their views and experiences with local teachers and school administrators.
“I hope that the community of English language teachers, administrators, academics and researchers participating in this symposium will make good use of this golden opportunity to raise issues, initiate thinking and propose solutions that can contribute to improve the effectiveness of the teaching and learning process in our schools,” he said.
He added that he looked forward to receiving a report on the outcome of the symposium and pledged that his administration would continue to support the ministry in bringing back the symposium next year.
Prior to concluding his speech, Abang Johari shared two English language-related jokes with those present at the launch.
One of them was about a teacher filling in for another teacher who was on sick leave.
“As the teacher is not familiar with Mathematics, instead of putting the question as four minus two equals, she said, ‘You take four, you push two, what is the answer?’
“I hope this symposium will help produce more good English teachers in the future,” he added.
Among those present were Minister of MESTR Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong, Assistant Minister of Education and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee and permanent secretary to MESTR Dato Sudarsono Osman.