Thoughts on the language Esperanto, and the East-West division of time zones in Malaysia.
He lives in the village, leading a simple life. He has simple wishes to make for the benefit of future generations this Malaysia Day, the 16th of September 2011.
He suffers from lapse of memory and could not remember who changed the time in Malaysia. The kids in the villagers have to wake up early and walk in the dark to schools, especially in the months of ‘Malaysian winter’ – from November to December – during which the sun would get up a little late and go home early.
Those who live in the towns and cities, brightly lit with street lights, would not feel a pinch. The bus sekolah come to the door to fetch their schoolchildren. But the people in the towns have to pay more for electricity, though they do not have to train their children’s night vision, to attain eyes like that of a cat. No doubt, their pockets are getting slimmer too. They have to work harder to cover the increasing electricity bills.
Isn’t the world is blessed with a sun and a moon? Why should we alter the time to suit political gain? How many of us on this planet we call Earth really use natural resources well? What is the division of the time zones for? Fine, some argue that since there are Bangkok time, Beijing time, we should have a standard Kuala Lumpur time.
‘Waktu sekarang ialah 11 pagi di Indonesia barat…’ he loves this kind of time announcement as though it was before 1985. ‘Inilah radio Malaysia, waktu sekarang ialah 11 pagi di semenanjung Malaysia dan 11.30 pagi di Sabah dan Sarawak.’
The schools in Sabah and Sarawak commence at the same time as those in Semenanjung: 7.30am. However, there is a difference of 30 minutes between the respective 7.30ams in East and West Malaysia. At that time, the sun is bright and high up on the Eastern sky. The cars do not have to switch on head lights; the houses too are unlit. However those on the other side of the sea burn their fuel for an additional 30 minutes. Yes, for the rich people in towns or cities, it is nothing much. But there are the urban poor too, aren’t there? This half-hour costs nothing to the rich but in the long run, it eats into the savings of a poor family.
The fact is that the Malaysian peninsula is separated by the South China Sea from Sabah and Sarawak. Do we feel ashamed of telling the time in the two zones?
No one complains about it, only this old man, this almost insane old man. Yes, he sees that the children need money to buy torch lights to go to school, and then there are the batteries. Year after year, savings for the children do not suffice to meet the cost of fees in the colleges and universities.
Therefore, he mustered the courage to bow and make a wish on this auspicious day that the truth should be said and the incorrect should be corrected.
Hopefully the old man who suffers from selective memory loss can tell us why he wanted to change the time in the 80s.
The final wish of the old man from the village concerns something few Malaysians know of. That is Esperanto, one of the 100 top languages in the world. The BBC televison has this to say about Esperanto:
Many people from the Western countries do not support the education of Esperanto, especially the English-speaking countries, in fear of losing the status of English in the world. Behold, this was what the British said about Esperanto in the 4-year research project called Spring Board. Therefore, if you are against it, please write to the British government for wasting funds in such research. But the old man would like to share an ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) interview with the famous Australian Esperantist Ms Vos, who tells us why schools should teach Esperanto.
The children in the rural schools are always facing the shortage of teachers, and this problem is certainly most acute when it comes to qualified English language teachers. The children are left with no proper grasp of the foreign language. In contrast, within just one year of learning Esperanto in the Primary school, the children are already equipped with the command of an international language.
Remember, we are not in an English-speaking country; no matter how hard one tries, he/she cannot speak with the correct pronunciation. Please switch on the radio and listen to the local radio stations, to the so-called DJs: how many of them can speak English correctly and accurately? How many countries on this planet use English as their national language? If the English-speaking countries did not use force to colonise the lands of other people, English would not be that popular; but Dr Robert Phillipson thinks otherwise – he mentioned that English is an imperial language.
Please do not teach bastardised English in Malaysia. We do not need to have variation of English in the form of Manglish, Singlish or Chinlish. When children in the English-speaking countries make a grammar mistake, they defend that as a slip of the tongue but when Malaysians make the error, they happily ridicule you, even creating a website to collect pictures of grammatical errors from all over the world for fun. Do we deserve such fun and ridicule? The English language is not our mother tongue.
This final wish of the old man is hard to fulfill. He knows it well.
Yet if one can think rationally, one will not be misled by the people opposed to Esperanto- not all Westerners, for there are locals too among them – and one will certainly support the introduction of Esperanto in primary schools. Esperanto was recognised by UNESCO in 1954, and it is the 32nd language in the FRAME examination in Europe. Look at the Australian experience and listen to Radio Esperanto from China, a radio station with a history of almost half a century. The Vietnam Esperanto Association is the host of 97th International Esperanto Congress. You still can join the community even if you still wish to learn Esperanto now, as it only takes 50 hours or less.
It is Malaysia Day soon. The old man would like to take the first step and wish his beloved country in Esperanto:
‘Kisoj por vi’.
[Note: Kisoj por vi means “kisses for you”.]