Dr M pushes for referendum on PPSMI

(The Malaysian Insider) – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed asked for a referendum to decide if English should be used to teach science and mathematics, as pressure mounted on the government to reconsider its policy reversion to Malay.

“Perhaps we should do a referendum,” he told reporters today at the sidelines of the Third World Chinese Economic Forum here.

Dr Mahathir also said that a survey should be done on whether a gap is emerging between the rich and the poor due to access to English.

“If we do a survey for example whether it is true that rich people are sending their kids to schools that use English but the poor have to go to schools provided by the government that teach in Malay”

Mahathir said that it was never too late to backtrack on the decision to abolish the policy and revert to English.

“These are man made laws,” he said. “It is not God’s law. It can be repealed. There is no such thing as a fixed law that cannot be changed forever.”

The former prime minister also stressed that he was not being unpatriotic for pushing for mathematics and science to be taught in English noting that Malaysians have to be ready to deal with scientific discoveries which were often written up in English.

“I am as much a nationalist as anybody else,” he said. “I advocated the use of Malay long before many of those people (who are against English) were born. But I realise the practicality of it. We have to master scientific knowledge if we want to develop this country. That is why despite the fact that many of my old friends are against me, I still stand by it.”

Mahathir added that using English as a medium of instruction for science in the multi-racial, multi-lingual nation would be beneficial.

“I believe PPSMI is good for Malaysia whether for Malays, Chinese or Indians,” he said.