KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 (Bernama) -- The teaching of science and mathematics in English should be continued to ensure Malaysian students, especially the Malays, are not left behind, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said the change to teach the two subjects in English from Bahasa Malaysia was to ensure students could master them and at the same time become more proficient in English, the number one language in the world.
"It is not aimed at neglecting Bahasa Malaysia. Furthermore, most publications on science and mathematics are in English.
"Take for example the cellular phone. If foreigners manufacture them equipped with cameras and the short-messaging facility but the manual is in English, can we used our science which is in Bahasa Malaysia to make the same hand phone? By the time we are done with the translation we will be left far behind," he said at the "Malay Dilemma" discourse organised by the National Writers Association (Gapena) here today.
He also cited the dark ages of the Arabs where they had to learn everything from the Greeks.
"Obviously they could not ask the Greeks to translate their knowledge into Arabic. The solution then was for them to learn Greek so that they could have access to the knowledge in their possession. By doing this, the Arabs became a progressive race," he said, adding that the same applied in the current scenario in the country.
He also said being proficient in two languages was a great asset and cited himself as an example.
"I studied in a Malay school for two years before my father transferred me to an English school. Thereafter all my education was in English.
"Did I lose my ability to use Bahasa Malaysia? It will not signify the end of the Malay race if we are to learn in English as well," he said.