Anwar Ibrahim’s clarification over Singapore teachers proposal highlights importance of clear communication

Anwar Ibrahim’s clarification over Singapore teachers proposal highlights importance of clear communication
"Anwar Ibrahim’s clarification over Singapore teachers proposal highlights importance of clear communication"

On June 12, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, said he had discussed the possibility of having Singaporean teachers teach English, and other subjects in Malaysia. And that got many riled up.

During a joint press conference with Singapore Prime Minister Lawrence Wong at Putrajaya, Anwar had said: “Beyond that enhancement of this relations, we did discuss the possibility of Singapore considering my humble submissions of sending teachers to teach English or some other subjects to many regions in this country, let the young graduates make their own choice if they can, and I’m extremely pleased that Prime Minister Lawrence Wong is prepared to positively say this.

“This is not something that we prepared through the officers. We want to prove that sometimes, prime ministers can decide before the ministers,”

These two paragraphs were also documented by the Prime Minister’s Office, copies of which were later disseminated to members of the media.

The headlines blew up, with local media reporting that Malaysia wanted Singaporean teachers for our schools. This led to many questioning the rationale behind the proposal. Some said that Malaysia had many retired teachers who were proficient in English, why not make use of them?

Many also questioned the financial burden due to the strong Singapore currency – one Singapore dollar is now equivalent to RM3.46.

However, on June 14, Anwar clarified that the government would not be paying for the Singapore teachers, as the proposal was a ‘volunteer programme’ aimed at boosting English proficiency and improving bilateral relations between Malaysia and Singapore. He said this at a gathering with the civil service at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.

He also criticised the “three-minute experts” for assuming Malaysia would pay these “teachers”, without seeking clarification.

There is a passage I once read which goes: “When making speeches, politicians must make themselves understood. They must not give statements that could be misconstrued, or are ambiguous.”

Or, to quote a line from the movie ‘Cool Hand Luke’: “What we’ve got here, is a failure to communicate”.

When Anwar first spoke about “importing” teachers from Singapore, there was no mention of an ‘exchange programme’ for Singapore teachers as ‘volunteers’ to rural schools. Or, that it would be paid for by the Singapore government.

The specifics, the nitty-gritty of these things should be carefully thought out and clearly articulated to prevent confusion, and eliminate ambiguity.

It is no secret that Anwar’s government is having a tough time dealing with the fallout from the removal of the diesel subsidies on June 10, and the lack of reforms that were promised.

The last thing it needs is even more negative publicity.

Government communications must be crystal clear and leave no room for people to form their own conclusions. Perhaps Anwar could reach out to retired Malaysian teachers to help him be better understood.


The 2nd Acrobatic Lion Dance Championship is tomorrow, June 16, at Central i-City Mall in Shah Alam, Selangor.

While the lion dance tradition began in China over 1,000 years ago, Malaysia has transformed it into the spectacular art form we see today.

The public can participate in a Lion Dance workshop until June 17 by spending RM200 in two receipts.


The world-renowned Porsche World Roadshow will debut at Sepang International Circuit from June 21 to 29.

Among the highlights is the all-electric Taycan. Participants can experience this extensively updated four-door electric Porsche as part of the roadshow.

Under the direction of skilled, trained instructors in a secure setting, participants will have a memorable driving experience as they enjoy the performance, and precision handling qualities synonymous with Porsche automobiles.

Participants can also enjoy an unforgettable driving experience under the guidance of professionally-certified instructors in a safe and controlled environment.


The second PJ Tower Run is on June 30, in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

The event offers RM10,000 in prize money and a special prize for anyone who breaks record time of 1 minute 58 seconds to climb the 25 floors of 552 steps.

There are four categories – men’s and women’s, open and men’s and women’s veteran. Competitors must pace themselves, as only the top 20 will advance into the second round.

From those 20 who will go up the tower again, the 10 quickest will qualify for the third and final round to determine the winners.

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