Determined adults ‘graduate’ in BM

KUCHING: Determined not to be left out when others are conversing in Bahasa Melayu (BM), two Chinese men sought the help of a tutor to overcome their linguistic weakness.

SUPPORTING EACH OTHER: Soo and Wong (left) attended class together. (Inset) Chai: He made up his mind to go through all three years to learn BM.

SUPPORTING EACH OTHER: Soo and Wong (left) attended class together. (Inset) Chai: He made up his mind to go through all three years to learn BM.

Both men, who are Malaysians, attended a BM class organised by the Kuching Hainan Association Women Section at its premises here.

They were among 30 people who ‘graduated’ from the class at a simple ceremony yesterday. The certificates of attendance were presented by Deputy Works Minister Datuk Yong Khoon Seng.

Chai Ming Ngai, 49, furniture industry player, can now speak the language fluently after attending the class for the past three years.

“I knew that my grasp and knowledge of BM was not good enough but I’m not too keen to join a class with youngsters so I immediately signed up when I saw the advertisement by the association, because it meant that the participants would be working adults like me,” said Chai.

He said he wanted to be very fluent in the language, which was why he made up his mind to attend classes for three years.

He said because he works in a shop, he needs to be able to respond to customers’ enquiries, especially if they are speaking in BM.

Raymond Soo, 34, a Johor Bahru-born contractor, brought his wife along to the class so that he would have a partner to practise with.

Despite learning the language in primary school, he did not really pay attention in class and ended up knowing ‘useless little’.

“Since some customers do not speak Chinese, I decided to take the initiative to learn the language because my grasp of the language was so miserly that I was afraid I would be misunderstood,” said Soo.

“It is never too late to learn a new language, as long as there is determination to do so,” he said, adding that he hoped he could build new friendship with his good command of the language.

He admitted that though his pronunciation is still “not very good”, with more practice he should get it right.

Soo’s wife, Wong Sau Kuin, 33, secretary, said she fully supported his decision to take up the class as it was only once a week.

“Now it’s like we learn together too,” she said.

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