The following is a heartfelt opinion of a level-headed Malaysian parent taken from a PPSMI blog...
I was educated together with the rest of my classmates in Taiping in a mission school from prmary one to sixth form some 30 to 40 years ago. During the scholling days, we were taught sciences & mathematics in the English AND the rest of the subjects except the English language in Bahasa Malaysia, We are schooled in the two most important languages besides Mandarin (regreted for not taking it as a subject privately). Subsequently, all classes junior to ours were in BM for all the subjects except English & Mandarin
If I am to be asked by the Government today, did that system benefit me? If they ask my classmates were they well schooled? I am very sure they would agree with me in affirmative! Just to share what benefit from that system.
I am able to use and converse well enough in English, ably to communicate with anyone from the Englsih speaking world. The gift of an English education also enables me to read and write sufficient to get things done. On the other hand, my grasp of the Bahasa Malaysia is also sufficient for me to speak to our Malays friends, communicate with any Government officers in this lovely language. As I am working with a non Government organisation, most the time the language of the communication is in Bahasa Malaysia. Can we imagine we live in Malaysia and yet unable to speak in the national language?
In summary, the present system is actually the same system we went through 4 decades ago. The conundrum today is we do not have the parameters to make the system ticks.
1. Teachers- we have committed teachers in both languages to educate us those days. Those days our teachers are more than capable to teach in both languages. We must bring up/ reeducate the present lot who rejects teaching Sceince/ Maths in English (though there are some exceptions)
2. Pupils & parents - It needs lots of hard work to master both language. Pupils and parents must come to reality in order for our children to be par excellence and competitive, we need both the languages
3. Bigotry/ Ethnocentrism - there are always plenty of bigoted people in the world and not only in Malaysia. They think their language and system is the best and there is no need to learn form others.
4. Government- please do not pander to the wishes of the minority who rejected the present system. You are the govenment & as an authority must press on to ensure we have a generation of citizen who are proud of the country because they are capable, self confidence without the unnecessary lack of inferior complex.
Finally to relate many incidences. I am 48 year old today and I work with many younger people. Often I came across Chinese, Malay and Indian Malaysians who are unable to speak properly in the simplest English thence unable to put across ideas even though I know these young people are bright, however handicapped by the lack of the skills. The govenment must press on and not left off because of political pressures. We should be unpopular today because we want to nurture a generation of Malaysians to excel. This is the sacrifice the government of the day has to take.