KUALA LUMPUR — In a decision expected to appease both sides of the divide, the Education Ministry has said that Mathematics and Science in schools would be taught in Bahalish, an intergration of Bahasa Malaysia and the English language.
“We thought long and hard about the issue,” said Minister of Education Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, at a Press conference at the ministry, which was also attended by his Education officers and language consultants. “We realised that this is a very sensitive issue, one that not only touches the future of our children, but also the fabric of our multi-racial society. So we had to be extremely careful, and try to find a win-win situation for everyone.”
The issue of picking the language to teach the two subjects has been a hot one since the decision to use English was adopted a few years ago, sending temperatures rising among educationists, politicians and the common man. On one hand, suppoters of teaching in English say that it is the only way Malaysian students can prepare for global competition since English is the world’s lingua franca, and that most of the world’s knowledge is stored in that language. Critics, however, say that many students are struggling with the language, and by using English to teach Maths and Science in schools, they would end up struggling with Maths and Science too, further exacerbating the situation. Adding fuel to the fire are some politicians, who have somehow managed to make it a racial issue.
“I have to admit, it was getting very complicated. Convoluted. We somehow needed to simplify it, and not lose our focus,” said Muhyiddin. “And then it dawned on us — to simplify the big issue, we needed to simplify the core problem, which is the medium itself.
“And so, our panel of experts deliberated, pouring over data and conducting extensive research, to finally arrive to the conclusion: we must intergrate the languages. Hence, the new and improved Bahalish! This way, there is no issue of ‘which language to use’.”
Muhyiddin then demonstrated the simplicity of the new language.
“For example, if one were to say in English, ‘The big brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’, the Bahalish translation would be ‘De big braun foks jamps ove e lezi dog’. See? Very simple, yes?” he asked, confidently.
He added, “And the beauty is that you can also say it in a more Bahasa-skewed Bahalish, like this: ‘Moo-sung young burr-saur eetoo mer-lowm-putt merler-puss-see sir-eh-core un-jeeng marr-lus’. I mean, it’s so easy, even a pre-schooler would be able to pick it up in a jiffy. I’m getting goosebumps just speaking in Bahalish!” Muhyiddin said in jest, as his language experts laugh in agreement, eyes red and puffy presumably from the sleepless nights doing their experty stuff.
“We’ll start using Bahalish next month, after getting all textbooks and materials translated and distributed to all schools. English and Bahasa Malaysia would no longer be taught, since they’re redundant, and will be replaced by intensive Bahalish courses. I am confident this decision will be accepted with open mind by everyone involved,” he added. “We take care of everyone’s feelings, no culture is marginalised, and most importantly, our children will have access to the world’s knowledge with no problem whatsoever.
“In fact, we believe the world will see our wisdom and start adopting Bahalish very soon.”
Asked what the ministry plans to do with the other languages taught in schools, Tamil and Mandarin, Muhyiddin said that Bahalish has opened up the floodgates for more innovation.
“Our teams will work on it. Frankly, I don’t see anything wrong with combining other languages. Will it be Tamdarin, or Manmil? It could be both. And at the end of the day, I dream of one common language, in line with our Prime Minister’s noble concept of 1Malaysia.
“I hope that one day, we’ll all be speaking, writing, learning and doing business in Bahalishtamdarin.”