Hisham: How many are there in your family?
Applicant: I number three.
Hisham: What does your father do?
Applicant: Father die already.
Hisham: What does your mother do?
Applicant: Mother not yet die.
His article entitled "Do you speak England?" was lamenting on the standards of English today as well as reminiscing on the good old days. His experience obviously concurs with mine, having blogged here on the same topic.
There are some other pretty hilarious examples:
In 1993, at the height of the battle for posts in Umno, a colleague from the Far Eastern Economic Review, Michael Vatikiotis, interviewed a senior Menteri Besar (since retired) who said: "We will win because of our prestation."
"Prestation?" Michael asked.
"Ya, ya… prestation. You know, prestasi (Bahasa Malaysia for performance)."
A few years ago, another Menteri Besar, at a dinner with senior editors, slapped his thighs excitedly at one point during the conversation, and said: "That’s the reason is…".
It was, of course, a direct translation from Bahasa Malaysia’s "itulah sebabnya".
He did come up with some important suggestions on moving forward and we hope that coming from the Chief Editor of NST, the authorities will take serious note. In his own words, which I totally agree:
We have to face it. We blundered when we started treating English a just another subject in the mid-1970s and made it non-compulsory to pass for examinations. Today, in a keenly competitive world, where English is the major language of knowledge and communication, one generation of Malaysians is paying the price for that blunder.