I actually just want to bring to your attention an article by pro-Pakatan portal The Malaysian Insider, which title I believe is a bit misleading, particularly on the part "divided",
|(Clockwise from top left) Chan Kah Fai, Har Chee Hou, Tan Jia Mun and Katarina Law Jen-Yu|
1. Katarina Law Jen-Yu, who went to secondary school at Wesley Methodist, came from a Chinese primary school and said she “could never complete a verbal sentence in BM”.
“I try to avoid having conversations with teachers, but when I do, I mix English with BM or write a sentence in Malay on a piece of paper then repeat it to the teacher,” she said.
2. Speaking "rojak" – the mixing of English and rudimentary BM – sometimes helped, such as in the case of Pin Hwa High School graduate, Chan Kah Fai, who said he was forced to pick up BM and mix it with English for his job at the customer service department of a telecommunication service company. “Living in a multi-racial country, I think it’s about being considerate and understanding when it comes to learning BM,” he said. “But not knowing it doesn’t mean you can’t survive, there are tons of examples of people living a good life despite not knowing the language”
3. Another student, Har Chee Hou, a Johor Foon Yew Chinese Independent School graduate, on the other hand, used broken BM to communicate with Malays while helping in the 2013 general election campaign for Liow Cai Tung,
the DAP candidate for the Johor Jaya state seat. “I ran errands amidst preparations for the election campaign then, and it gave me the opportunity to communicate and interact with Malay representatives from PKR and PAS. Har also agreed with Chan’s views, saying that “the only element one would require to survive in this country is tolerance.”
4. “I often have to get people who are good at BM to accompany me when I’m out," confessed Tan Jia Mun who attends a national secondary school in Puchong, Selangor. “I always flunked my BM or passed it by the skin of my teeth, until I attended tuition classes that forced us to memorise at least one essay every day and other sophisticated Malay words and idioms because including them in your essays earns you extra marks in exams,” Tan said. “Memorising” was a common practice among students when she was in school, she added. Tan, however, felt that BM wasn’t as important because it was just a “language used in a small region”.“It’s not even an international language, so as long as you can speak on a basic level, that should be enough,” she said.
5. Another student who only wanted to be known as Wong from SMK Assunta, Petaling Jaya, regularly mixes English and rough BM as she found Malays could
still understand her. “I don’t do badly in exams,” she pointed out. “It’s not that I don’t want to excel at the language, my family did send me to a Malay school after all but with everyone around me speaking English, I never really had the chance to practice it.” “It’s really hard for me to find a Malay who doesn’t speak English at all,” she said. “All my Malay friends around me speak English anyway.” Wong agreed (with Tan), saying that it was not right to consider someone as being unable to survive in Malaysia without speaking BM. “If expatriates can survive without a word of BM, why can’t we? It’s just so double standard,” she said.