Chicken and Duck talk!

This is what the Sun says today:

TAN SRI Hasmy Agam, the executive chairman of the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR), has done a great service to Malaysia by exposing the country’s “state secret” – that our government officials especially diplomats are often rendered tongue-tied and speechless when they come face to face with foreigners. They probably break into cold sweat when hailed by their foreign counterparts at an investment or security seminar or even at a cocktail reception or informal dinner. (for the full article , read here)

Malaysians used to play a very important role in international conferences, whether they were at government  or non-government levels. Many Malaysians were chosen to be part of international organisations as Malaysians were known to have  strong command of English.

Not any more. Those who are at the DG levels at their late 50s may still be able to hold their ground when speaking in english, but the lower ranking officers at pengarah level may not be as eloquent anymore. Worse still, the officers at lower levels could hardly string a sentence of english together. That is part of the reasons, I suspect, that many DGs got extension of their services, not because they are outstanding, but rather, there was no one who is dependable to take over their functions.

So the above news should not  come as a big surprise to us. Psychologically, a person who is not confident , like those mentioned in the news, would act in a pompous way to hide their insufficiencies. At the same time, they would try to avoid contact with foreigners because of the lack of confidence. So you get arrogant officers who cannot perform for the government.

Often such officers are sent overseas on trade missions and so on, and I wonder how they could help secure investments if they would cuddle themselves in one corner in international meets and fail to mix around.

In the same news article, it was reported that:

One complaint of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when he was prime minister was that Malaysia failed to be properly informed because officials sent abroad often avoid attending cocktails, informal dinners or other functions where information, not available officially, can sometimes be obtained.

I would say this is what the proverb ” what goes round comes around’ means. It was his policy that saw the end of good English speaking officers, and because of that, officers sent overseas could not serve him effectively as required. He has only himself to blame.

No wonder the book “Malaysian Maverick” was such a hot sell.


Talking about the book,  I received an email from monk conveying this info about Barry Wain’s lecture:

Public Lecture

Malaysian Maverick:

Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times

Speaker: Barry Wain

Discussants: Professor Edmund Terence Gomez,
Professor Wan Zawawi Ibrahim, Dr Ong Kian Ming

Date: 27 May 2010 (Thursday)

Time: 6.00-7.30pm

Venue: Lecture Theatre 3

Faculty of Economics & Administration

University of Malaya

Enquiries: Please call 603-7967-7800


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. A Single Vote
    May 26, 2010 @ 12:44:49


    If one puts a tongue-tied nincompoop in such a position, who should we blame, the incompetent fella for accepting the post or the bigger idiot who put him there in the first place.

    Ask any young fresh manager about staff placements and we can have him running our country more competently than the ones who are pretending to do that now.

    And we talk about brain-drain?


  2. klm
    May 26, 2010 @ 13:52:03

    Not only that. I was told that Senior Police officers who went to attend courses abroad behaved the same. Many came back and could not write a report on the courses attended, Because they were in English. Now, I wonder if the police can communicate in English with Scotland Yard to arrest RPK. 🙂


  3. klm
    May 26, 2010 @ 13:55:42

    And Oh, there was a case of a senior police officer who went to attend a course in FBI. He was caught cheating in the test and was sent back. The course was in English and of course his standad of english was low.

    What a shame to Malaysia.


  4. CYC
    May 26, 2010 @ 14:15:53

    Some who know Mukhriz well since young describe him as “one with very low intelligence, or simply bodoh” , but he is the deputy minister for investment and trade. What say u?

    In Malaysia, we don’t need those in the same league of Goh Keng Swee. We are better of with pornstar, bodek PhD and Bollywood mafia. So, how could u demand more of those work under this administration?

    Our most famous line of conversation in English is :………………… apa nama ………,………u know……….shit, shit, shit………


  5. chabalang
    May 26, 2010 @ 15:36:38

    Thanks to 2 decades of neglecting English in our education system, I am not surprised at the “tongue-tied” syndrome. Luckily, M’sia still have time to undo the DAMAGES inflicted in the past 20 years. It’s never too late BUT are we taking the first step? Seemed like not -> e.g. reversal of use of English in teaching (not much hope with the current Education minister). Sigh…

    As for the comment made by CYC (2.15 pm) on Mukhriz, I feel it was a unfair comment. I do not know him personally as a friend but I did have a number of meetings with him with a small group of people. I find him to be rather thoughtful (quiet but does not talk crap) – he did have learned advisers with him. Remember what politicians talk about in the public (wayang kulit) can be very different from how and what they speak privately.


  6. disgusted
    May 26, 2010 @ 17:31:25

    The book virtually buried Old Horse’s legacy, whatever is left.


  7. A true Malaysian
    May 26, 2010 @ 20:13:10

    “Are you nuts to send me for the cocktail partiy?” The tongue-tied may be shouting at his superior before sending him or her to the party.

    “Please, I am a Muslim, cocktail and food there are non-halal, I cannot possibly go” This maybe the excuse they have.

    Well, with the stupidity continues, Malaysia will end up a nation with stupid citizens. But, never mind, they may say, even among the stupids, there are still a lot of straight As smart people.

    That’s what I am worried as a parent. Sigh!!!


    May 29, 2010 @ 10:08:09



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