Monday, November 19, 2007


No, not female dogs, but of the sunny sand and surf variety. But some people can't seem to tell the difference. This post is a tribute to stupid censors.

I was watching a movie yesterday on General Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day. Throughout the movie, plans of the invasion were discussed and beaches and beachheads were mentioned. But each time the words came up, the censors went into action and cut off the sound. I was stunned at their stupidity and even more stunned at their lack of comprehension.

Such stupidity is an indictment of the degree of proficiency in the English language possessed by our censors. One would expect a censor to have at least minimally functioning English to be considered for the job, but apparently, in Malaysia, that’s too much to ask for. Malaysia, like Singapore, as a former British colony has always boasted a high degree of proficiency in the English language. Much of that originates from the sound system of education bequeathed to us by the British, the backbone of which are the various missionary schools.

I myself am a product of that education, having studied in the Penang Free School (above), founded in 1816 as the first English school in South East Asia in the tradition of the great British public schools and for many years one of the most prominent.The Penang Free School numbers amongst its alumni many royals, including 2 Kings of Malaysia (since 1957), the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, the famous plague fighter Dr. Wu Lien-Teh and numerous other personalities and personages of note including many many winners of the prestigious Queen’s Scholarships during the long reign of Queen Victoria. In my time, the proud traditions of excellence were still maintained and cultivated.

The first Penang Free School building, now housing the State Museum

But that inheritance has been chipped away with the nationalists promoting Malay (from the ruling party, right) at the expense of English. Attempts to restore that proficiency, after realizing the implications, has so far been a failure as the teachers themselves have lost the ability to teach and communicate effectively in the language due to years to neglect. That’s sad and worrying because one of the factors of the nation’s rapid progress and development and its ability to attract foreign investors had been the general proficiency in English. With Thailand, China and India now offering cheaper skilled labour, our hard earned advantage should not be so lightly surrendered to pander to racist politics such as those promoted by the ruling party.

Stupid, inept censors is just another symptom of that deeply entrenched malaise.

Hishamuddin Tun Hussein, the Hon' Minister of Education and the keris (Malay dagger) he wants to bathe in our (non-Malay) blood.

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