KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia has set up a special task force to ensure that future graduates from local universities have good command of the English language, says Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the task force, to be jointly headed by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Abdul Wahid Omar and Higher Education Minister Idris Jusoh, will look at how universities can improve the marketability of their graduates through improved soft-skills and hands-on training, including communications skills.
"Whether we like it or not, English is a prerequisite in the real world if we are to move forward and compete with the best in the world," he told some 1,200 graduates under the 1Malaysia Skills Training Programme at a dialogue session in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday (Nov 11).
Mr Najib also acknowledged the sensitivity over the language issue and called on all quarters to put aside their "emotions".
"We cannot be emotional and feel that we do not need English. If we say we do not want to be jaguh kampung (village champions) and want to succeed at the international level, we need a good command of English," he added.
However, he said that Bahasa Malaysia was still the national language and a part of the national identity.
He noted the issue faced by present graduates was the lack of self-confidence stemming from their inability to express themselves well.
"Graduates must have a high level of self-confidence and be able to express themselves well in at least two languages, namely Bahasa Malaysia and English," he added.
Besides looking at improving graduates communication skills, the task force will also look at other aspects that would make graduates more employable in line with the needs of the industries.