Educating a country

MM Lee said that it is because he switched our education to English that we are connected to the world today and that he did it by offering the people choices and letting the market decide who got better jobs. I find this interpretation of events inaccurate.

Hong Kong is just as well connected to the world as we are even though it relegated English to a second language. There could be two reasons why MM chose to marginalise Chinese:

1. The masses were largely Chinese educated and loyal to Chinese leadership. To gain control of the population, he needed to eradicate Chinese and replace it with English, even assimilating Nanyang University into NUS.

2. He is himself an admirer and master of the English language. It is natural that he would want to mould his nation in English.

The main reason why English is our working language today is that we, like Hong Kong and India, were once British colonies. So it is really a stroke of luck that English became an integral part of us from which we have benefited immensely. But while Hong Kong connects with the West through English without losing hold of its indigenous cantonese dialect, we on the other hand have lost touch with our native mandarin. One might say that MM obliterated Chinese with the same ruthless efficiency as Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

He did it by nationalising all schools which in turn facilitated the implementation of a nationwide English syllabus which left people with no choice really. By controlling the entire economy, he controlled the entire market so in the end, what the market decided was what he decided.


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