I am writing something serious this time.
I can't really understand why some Malaysian cannot speak our national language - Malay language. Yesterday, a friend of mine, an Orthopaedic surgeon, Yazid Kassim, wrote in his Facebook status about this. It reminds me of an incident back in 2005 when I was working in Hospital Mentakab.
That morning, a 17 year old chinese man was admitted to the ward following a motorvehicle accident. He had a closed fracture of his left tibia (shin bone). Looking at his xray, the fracture was so comminuted that we need to internally fix the fracture with an interlocking nail - dengan kata lain, 'nak kena masuk besi'.
So, I tried to explain to him about his injury and what we planned for him. To my surprise, he looked so blurred and he can't understand a single thing about what I said. It really pissed me off... really. So, I asked my houseman, "Is he from Malaysia or from mainland China or Taiwan??" Then, my houseman passed his IC to me. Yes, he is a Malaysian, living in Triang, Pahang.
"Lahir kat Malaysia, besar kat sini, sepatah haram pun tak boleh cakap Bahasa Melayu". I expressed my anger and dissapointment.
And next to him was a Bangladeshi with a finger tip injury following an industrial accident. "Berapa lama kerja kat Malaysia?" He said, "5 bulan". "Mana sakit?" I asked him another question. He showed me his index finger. After examining him, I explained to him what we planned to do. And, he nodded.."faham dokter".
Now, how come a Bangladeshi who just came to Malaysia 5 months ago can understand and even speak Malay much better that a Malaysian Chinese who was born and raised in Malaysia since 17 years ago??? What a shame to be living in Malaysia but can't speak our national language.
And incident like these occur again and again, in each and every hospital that I have worked in - Hospital Tengku Ampuan Afzan (HTAA), Hospital Mentakab, Hospital Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah (HoSHAS) Temerloh, Hospital Selayang, Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Pusat Perubatan UKM Cheras and now, in Hospital Sungai Buloh, Selangor. I other words, it is not exclusive to certain places only.
I am not a racist. I have many close chinese and indian friends. You can even peep at my friend list on my facebook account if you like. Many of my chinese friends can speak Malay fluently. My close companion and an orthopaedic colleague, Dr Wan KL in Hospital Sungai Buloh even commonly mistaken by his patient as a Malay because of his fluency in articulating the language.
Of course it is multi-factorials, Is it the Education system to be blamed? It is some of the Chinese community itself that appears to be comfortable living in their closed community? Or, maybe the Malays also play a part of the puzzle. If the Malays are not proud of our Malay language and put English as more important that the national language that, don't complaint if others can't speak Malay.
I have encountered one orthopaedic consultant who was so worried that her 10-year-old daughter cannot speak Malay at all. She can understand, but refuse to speak in Malay. On another occasion, a long-lost friend of my wife brought her 2 children, aged 8 and 5 years, to my house in Cheras 6 months ago. She is an English tutor. She proudly communicated with her daughter and son in English. And they can't speak Malay. What is this??? I don't respect this kind of people. For me, our own national language, Malay, should comes first, then English. What is there to be proud of if you can't speak your own language??
We don't ask the Malaysian Chinese and Indian to forget their mother-tongue language. Learn and speak your language, be it Mandarin, Cantonese, Tamil etc. I think it's a waste and a pity if you lost your mother tongue. But by all means, I feel that the national language should be mastered by all Malaysian - Malays, Chinese, Indians, Sabahan, Sarawakian, etc. It's a mean of uniting us. Without communicating with each other we are doom. The future of Malaysia will be uncertain.
PS. I am excited listening to national athlete, Bryan Nickson Lomas speaks in national language on TV3 Buletin Utama last night. True MALAYSIAN.