The mastery of English by Malaysians has been an asset to the nation particulary in attracting foreign investors, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.
He said, however, there was concern that the command of English was diminishing among Malaysians, especially in the rural areas, and in government funded schools across the country.
The trend should not be left unchecked as the deterioration in proficiency of the English language would result in the loss of whatever advantage Malaysia had in drawing foreign investors, Najib said at the launch of the RHB-New Straits Times “Spell-It-Right (SIR) Challenge”, here today.
“Of course there are certain groups who would say that as Malaysians, Bahasa Malaysia should be our main language, and that it should be the language that is championed by all.
“While it is without doubt that Bahasa Malaysia has an exalted place in all our hearts and that it would forever be the National language, the stark reality is that English is the primary language of commerce and science the world over, today,” he said.
He said there was a need to have a strong command of English to get ahead in the world, both as a nation and also as individuals.
Najib said learning English, and mastering it, did not make Bahasa Malaysia any less important but made the people and country stronger, more resilent and more prepared to face the challenges of the future.
He therefore urged all teachers and parents to take heed of the importance of ensuring Malaysian children learnt English and used the language as much as possible in their daily lives.