I spent the last couple of days attending a seminar on foreign languages. It was interesting, meeting educators of various languages, almost all of them teaching in Malaysia. I admire Malaysians able to speak other languages besides Bahasa Malaysia and English. I envy them a little too. I wish I was exposed to and made to learn another language when I was in school. After school, I dabbled a little at Japanese and loved everything about Japanese culture. I made the efffort to attend tea ceremonies and Japanese calligraphy when such events were available in town. I was also interested in Shinto and the Zen way. I still harbour hopes of having a house zen-like; almost spartan; zuhud?! After Japanese, it was Mandarin; and then Arabic for about three years, then back to Mandarin. I could understand Cantonese when I had many Chinese friends. But all I am stuck with is a jigsaw of words and phrases.
Some findings from the seminar: a lot more Chinese students take up another language at university level compared to Malay students. I cannot understand why Malay students don't want to grab this opportunity and learn a new language. What I feel is that the Malays are not forward thinking enough. This is the niche that they will definitely have, not just when they start working. They are not ones who would 'sahut laungan kerajaan'. Having a population of multilinguals is one of the objectives in RMK9 . But when they are left behind, they'll blame the government.
I know it is not as simplistic, but in my opinion, that is more or less the case.