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The Sultan Who Wants To Follow Singapore Education System But Upset Over Letter Written In English & Chinese



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Sep 26 2018
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It’s not everyday that Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim gets really mad. So, when he jumps up and down demanding a head to roll, it raises eyebrows. This is perhaps the first time the monarchy goes berserk since the downfall of previous Barisan Nasional ruling government, a defeat which not even the Sultanate of Johor had anticipated, hence the crown prince having bet on the wrong horse.

 

Apparently, the sultan was reportedly furious that a MBIP (Iskandar Puteri City Council) councillor was found to have used Mandarin and English instead of Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) in the council’s formal letter. The letter was drafted to call on local residents to attend a dialogue session on a plan to demolish a road block.

 

Who would have thought that such a minor issue could be blown out of proportion? Heck, the issue was so life-threatening that Sultan Ibrahim has demanded that the councillor resigns. Yes, as if it was a threat to the national security, the sultan believed that a multilingual letter in a multi-racial Malaysia is more damaging than the theft of billions of dollars committed by ex-premier Najib Razak.

Johor Sultan Ibrahim - Sitting on Chair

Sultan Ibrahim expressed his displeasure on Tuesday (Sept 25th) – “All official letters involving the state government or local councils that use the official letter head must be written Bahasa Malaysia. If the councillor does not know how to do his or her job, just resign. This is my warning … do not make this mistake again. We have never written any official letters in two languages.

 

If only he had issued a similar lethal warning to Najib for stealing and laundering the country’s money. The puzzling part, however, was that the letter (in Chinese and English) was just an attachment. Perling assemblyman Cheo Yee How clarified – “The official invitation letter was written in Bahasa Malaysia, while the one in English and Mandarin was just the attachment to the official invite.”

 

Tan Hong Pin, the Johor state exco for Local Government, Science and Technology also explained that three languages were used in the letter, with the official letter written in Malay. He said – “The purpose of such an arrangement was to inform possible non-fluent Malay speakers to participate in the Road Restructuring Discussion between Jalan Jaya Mas ½ and Jalan Silat Print 2 in Skudai.”

Controversial Letter - Iskandar Puteri City Council - Malay Language version

Controversial Letter - Iskandar Puteri City Council - English and Chinese Language version

It appeared that the ruler’s anger was probably a follow-up after his trusted former Johor Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) Mohamed Khaled Nordin slammed the Iskandar Puteri city council for the English and Chinese letter. Clearly, sore loser Mr. Khaled, who’s still licking his wound after his defeat, had irresponsibly cherry-picked the letter attachment to stir up sentiments among the Malays.

 

The influential Sultan Ibrahim had preferred Khaled to remain as Menteri Besar, largely because the UMNO warlord had demonstrated his obedience, particularly the US$100 billion “Forest City” pet project belonging to the monarchy. In contrast, the new Mahathir administration has been criticizing the project as pawning Johor’s land to the Chinese from mainland China.

 

The simple fact that the Malay ruler uses the multilingual letter to make a mountain out of a molehill is jaw-dropping. After the same fiasco triggered by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in June, did the sultan really think an unknown councillor would dare use only Chinese and English written letters, knowing the rabies-infected UMNO is ready to pounce on it and bite like a mad dog?

Johor Forest City

Fine, probably the ruler needs to deliver a message – that he’s the champion amongst the nine Malay rulers who will protect the dignity of Malay language comes rain or shine. But here’s the problem with his new crusade. Three years ago, it was Sultan Ibrahim who was foaming at the mouth calling the country to follow Singapore education system.

 

In 2015, he said – “Singapore’s system has proven to be successful … (it has) helped to unite the races (there). What we can emulate from Singapore is the unity which has been fostered by its single-stream education system which uses English language as the medium. I urge the people of Johor to be open-minded about the national education system and be willing to change for the prosperity of the people.”

 

When asked to comment on the standard of English among the country’s younger generation, the sultan replied – “If you realise, most government officers nowadays are unable to speak or write good English. That is why I am not in favour of the present three types of schools (National, Chinese and Tamil).”

Singapore MultiLingual Sign Board

As a wise and educated ruler, surely Sultan Ibrahim realized that Bahasa Melayu (Malay language) will definitely take a back seat if his wish to use English language as the medium in schools is implemented. Will not that make the Malay language a joke, or somehow downgraded the so-called national language superiority in the process?

 

Would the sultan get angry had the letter been translated into English only, and not both Chinese and English? Did he know that Malay is Singapore’s national language but four official languages of Singapore are English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil? Multilingualism is all over Singapore road signs, including danger / warning signs at construction sites.

 

But the most embarrassing moment for Sultan Ibrahim was that in his haste to condemn the councillor (obviously an ethnic Chinese), he had made the silly assumption that the new state government of Pakatan Harapan had written official letters in two languages only – English and Chinese. Either he was ignorant or deliberately ignored there was actually an official letter written in “Bahasa Melayu”.

Johor Sultan Ibrahim - Anger

Sultan Ibrahim should also realized that when the 700,000 mainland Chinese nationals eventually settle in his “Forest City”, they would communicate in Chinese – definitely not Malay language. Will the Sultanate of Johor tell the wealthy Chinese that all written official letters and correspondent must be in Bahasa Melayu or else they would be deported on the next available plane?

 

The point is – having multilingual letters in addition to an official Malay language letter should not be condemned but encouraged. Such additional letters were meant to facilitate and supplement the original official Malay language letter. Why fantasizing about Singapore’s English proficiency and salivating for Chinese money but refused to have an open-mind in using multilingual letters?

 

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Comments

Dumb and dumber. True colour has surfaced..

Good for english.. for student

Dont know wat to comment, i loved Mr Kadir Jasin words. if the sedition law not exist than ok.

Looks like the Southern lost his touch since Tun in power.He dont like to be side line as 2nd best. He maybe senile when making this statement without investigate furthe

Feeling insecure, fear turning into red hot anger causing blood to rush to the head and eyes bulging demands immediate release of indignation and rabid lashing out at unfamiliarity, in this case foreign languages.

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