Of English and the Malaysian Minister

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Should the ability to speak proper English be a requirement to enter politics?

So, how important is the ability to speak proper English to a Minister?

Well, probably much more important than one actually realises, especially when it involves having to address foreign delegates.

Recently, the MCA took a swipe at Defence Minister, Mohamad Sabu following his speech in English at an international conference.


Apart from demonstrating a poor command of English, what some would find most embarrassing was his reference to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as “him”

The Defence Minister was speaking at the 18th IISS Asia Security Summit Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore on May 31.

Amanah youth leader, Faiz Fadzil who came to Sabu’s defence said the MCA was merely trying to distract the rakyat from their numerous scandals.

He said Sabu’s mistakes did not detract from his overall message.

However, while Sabu may be a good, honest Minister, the ability to address an international audience well does to an extent reflect on the country.

Surely Sabu is not the only Minister with this problem and we can all still recall Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s famous speech at the UN.

Many politicians have this problem with English proficiency and perhaps it is time this was something which needed to be considered before one can become a politician.

This is especially so if you are holding an important portfolio like Education, Defence or International Trade where you would often need to address an international audience.

Mastering English is the way forward, regardless of what some may say – it is an international language and in this borderless world, one cannot shy away from learning it.

Perhaps it is time for Ministers like Sabu to get a personal tutor?