Thursday, September 30, 2010

Idris Jala & His English Language Fallacy

KPI Minister & Pemandu CEO Idris Jala has dismissed the need for proficiency in the English language to achieve the Vision 2020 goal of becoming a high-income nation.

"You can be a high income economy with the national language,” said Idris at the CEO Forum organised by the Perdana Leadership Foundation.

He cited examples like Korea and Japan that became high-income nations without mastering the English language. “We need to remember that Korea became a high-income nation without using English. Japan went without that too,” he added.

As a KPI supremo in the Najib administration, it is a shame and a sham for Idris not to understand the underlying KPIs which had helped both South Korea and Japan to become industrial superpowers in the region.

Language is merely a medium. What both the Japanese and Korean governments did right was to promote meritocracy, innovation and knowledge acquisition as something very crucial and critical to their national pride. It was not a question about language.

However, both Korean and Japanese industrialists and scientists received their headstart from their unique relationship with the USA. Early industrialisation in Japan was assisted and sponsored by the Americans and the Korean war.

What the Japanese learnt from the Americans were put into great use through their unique initiative and ability to conduct 'reverse engineering' to improvise what the technology they had accumulated.

Early manufactures from Japan were knock-offs and did not meet any international standards. But they were adamant to continue improving and had put quality assurance and technical reliability as the most important KPIs.

Korean companies accepted their weaknesses and did a major turnaround in the late 90's to put technology advancement, product quality and creative design as their next competitive advantage. Today, some of their companies such as Samsung, LG, Kia and Hyundai are ranked among the global corporate giants.

It is a fact the two communities benefited from early knowledge acquisition from the English speaking knowledge communities in USA and Europe. In fact, the need to acquire English proficiency has become an important ingredient of success in these societies and other emerging societies in Asia including Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Thailand and others.

As a KPI Minister, it is pertinent for Idris to acknowledge the limited knowledge acquisition available in the Malay language. Intellectuals who had acquired knowledge in some of the best universities overseas should be encouraged to share their thoughts, knowledge and views in Malay. There are easily hundreds of thousands of books on various fields available in South Korea and Japan. These including translated books from the original English writers.

What about Malaysia?

Earlier, I had warned analysts not be too eager to praise Idris for some of his statements. He had merely succeeded in making some statements. It is time to judge him on his ability to turn his ETP into a success. Unfortunately, not many investors are taking his ambitious plan seriously.


Anonymous said...

You would have thought Unmoputers were a bad bunch living off licences, govt contracts pretending to be succesful businessmen. But even their leading light is a sham. I guess you sleep with a dog and you get lice.

But the Great Mahtahir had a answer for future and Vision20/20 He redefined "Developed status" as falling short of true developed.

Why not simply state now we are developed, why wait for 2020.

Stupidy and incompentce has no boundary!

najib manaukau said...


If you think B.M. can achieve many things why then it is not used outside the Malaysian Embassies all over the world where they are located. Instead Jawi is used !
Why is it that all the Malaysian students are required to learn B.M. ? So that the non Malays are slowed down for the Malay just like the use of the remove class for the non Malay students
who wish to move on to do their secondary school education ? Shenanigan Mahathir can use all kind of tactics to do that but that would stop the non Malay students to become top professionals.
Or is it to 'polish the shoes' or to glorify the Arabs ?
We are Malaysians and not Arabs. The only common thing Malaysia has with the Arabs is the adoption by the Ketunan Melayu of their religion period and nothing else. Before the adoption what was your religion ? For sure it cannot be Islam unless of course the Malays civilisation only came into being just a few hundred years ago. And this may be true.

Anonymous said...

Becareful young man,Perkosa will jump on you and accuse you a pengkhinat negara for "questioning" BM.Already you are titled a penumpang, pls don't get yourself another title,let Idris do his work as he seem to have put in lots of homework to get the working paper out.So far Idris don't play rhetorics politics,unlike the unwanted Penang guy who only dared to shoot LGE Dap but shy of saying a word against Perkosa.

najib manaukau said...

Anon 9.47 P.M.,

I am just waiting for the Perkasa cowards !
Come on you good for nothing and dependents of wheel chairs and charities to survival.
They just want to run 50 meters in a hundred meter race and who don't know what a race is all about. The worst part is even with 53 years of dependence plus the head start before the non Malays came they are still left far behind.
May be it is time the Original People of Malaya should send them back to Indonesia.
They can threaten and frighten a lot of non Malays but robbers and pirates from Indonesia don't frighten me at all. A cow horn will always be a cow horn and can never be an elephant ivory, regardless of what people like shenanigan Mahathir , Perkasa and the likes can do or polish. It is in the genes bloody horn horns !

Anonymous said...

This guy Idris Jala is 'bird' talking without any depth.How can Malaysia compares to Korea & Japan?? The 2 latter countries is a homogeneous and nationalistic society! Malaysia's population is rojak mixed.
Do you seriously think potential investors will come to Malaysia in times to come, knowing full well the local populace is lacking in English???

cheahsinkooi said...

Idris Jala, I beg to differ. The Koreans/Japanese could do it with their mother tongue because they have a united,dedicated, hardworking, meritocratic,innovative workforce. Just compare that with the mess we got right now...We are already loosing our competitiveness to countries like Thailand and Indonesia.

Anonymous said...

It is indeed very very amazing a guy like Idris talked garbage with regard to English language. Does he that dumb dumb that Japan and Korea just to mention a few, work hard, practice meritocracy, no such issue like BUMIPUTRAS, sons of soil, 30% free hand outs etc....called them whatever you like?
Idris, lets get real. If you can talk like that, then i am afraid ETP will just another talk show by UMNO/BN that is practically worthless.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with you, Khoo, especially on the point about meritocracy. Without meritocracy and all that goes with it, there is little chance of achieving developed status.

Remember in the 1970's we used to laugh at Japanese cars and say that if you meet with an accident in a Toyota, you're a gone case? But today, Toyota is the best selling car maker in the world. How did the Japs turn it around? Through innovation, quality control, improvement and sheer hard work. And all these qualities can only be fostered against a backdrop of meritocracy.

So to say that Japan & Korea became developed without much English is true. But one must not forget they learned from the West IN ENGLISH at first, then through meritocracy improved the technology they learned.

Even Mahathir says that English is the language of science and technology today, so we will downplay the importance of English to our peril.

ikonoklast said...

Idris ,

How many textbooks.journals,novels,films or
newspapers are there in BM?There are countless numbers of them in Japanese or Korean.

charleskiwi said...

Are you aware that until a few decades ago, you need only six years of education to complete Malay education. Only six years ? What can you learn in six years, main bola lah !

Ivan said...

Somehow i find it very frustrating trying to comprehend all the crap garbage that is continously being spewed out by our ruling political leaders! They must be thinking we are damn stupid or what!

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Anonymous said...

Idtris Jala is just a hypocrite. His children study in the elite Garden International School in KL. English is important for his children but not for other people's children.

CL said...

You know why many Malaysians (esp non-urbanites) are afraid of English? Because of pop culture, where mixed language is not seldom heard in Malay dramas! So we must review how English was applied in Malaysian culture in comparison to Japan and Korea. Let's make English "just an international language", not some class symbol that degrades the status of local lingos and consequently dilutes a country's national identity. In majority of other countries (except Africa), American cartoon TV shows and movies are dubbed in local lingos, and this might be why all those local lingos remain vibrant as of now because pop media helps kids cherish their mother tongues. How this affects their command of English is not an issue; they'd be well taught English in school albeit for 4 hours a week (and only this short for national language as well).

Let's stop pointing fingers at each other and help BM and English co-exist harmoniously again.

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Idris jala did very well .... i hope he will achieve the goal.... ...

Anonymous said...

you org bodolah kata dia mcm2..dah boss dia melayu mesti la kena guna melayu..u org pun klu jadi dia kan wat sama gak..sebenarnya di bukan minat bahasa melayu pun..dia bukan hipokrit cuma terpaksa..itu pun u org x leh beza..dia hanya wat apa yg terbaik..