Deep concern over ministry’s stand on English issue

Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian

KUCHING: The Old Josephians Association (OJA) has expressed its deep concern over the Education Ministry’s stand against the use of English as the medium of instruction in schools, including in Sarawak.

Old Josephians Association Kuching (St Joseph School) president Datuk Prof Dr Sim Kui Hian noted that in a written parliamentary reply as reported by an online news portal, the ministry had stated that the use of English as the medium of instruction in schools violates Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution and the National Language Act 1963/67.

“However, the Federal Constitution provides additional protection for Sarawak (and Sabah) regarding the use of English,” he said in a press statement here yesterday.

“Under Article 161 of the Federal Constitution, no law can restrict Sarawak’s right to use English for official purposes until 10 years after Malaysia Day on 16 Sept 1963. Further, any changes to the use of English in Sarawak by Parliament or the Federal Government must first be approved by the Sarawak Legislative Assembly.”

Dr Sim said that while Sarawak upholds Bahasa Malaysia as the national language, the association also fully support Sarawak’s right to use English as the medium of instruction in schools in the state.

“English is Sarawak’s second official language. It is also the international language of trade, business, science and technology. Proficiency in English is important for our younger generation to compete and succeed on the global stage.”

Dr Sim, who is also Local Government and Housing Minister, thus called upon the Education Ministry to respect Sarawak’s right to use English as a medium of instruction in schools.