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The Mandarin Language Prerequisite for Jobseekers

In recent times, I’ve found myself increasingly disillusioned with the prevailing expectation that job seekers in Malaysia must possess fluency in Mandarin. While I acknowledge the potential benefits of being multilingual in a competitive job market, it’s disconcerting to witness the insistence on Mandarin proficiency in a country where Malay serves as the primary language. The rationale often cited is the necessity of communicating with Mandarin-speaking clients.

English is already a business language

Undoubtedly, proficiency in multiple languages can confer a competitive edge. However, the predominant use of English as the lingua franca of global business raises questions about the disproportionate emphasis placed on Mandarin. After all, we’ve devoted years to mastering English in our educational system.

People have struggled, now employers want they struggle more?
A screenshot from NST

After dedicating years to advancing their studies, some now assert that formal qualifications hold less significance? I see. It seems this mindset is leading young people to pursue shortcuts to success, perhaps at the expense of their intellectual growth.

The expectation for job seekers to invest additional time and resources in learning Mandarin feels unjustifiable. It smacks of a dubious scheme reminiscent of MLM tactics rather than a legitimate professional requirement.

Will these Mandarin speakers learn Bahasa Melayu as well?

If Chinese companies are catering to Malaysian clients, would they be willing to make the effort to learn Bahasa Melayu? I’m skeptical; at worst, they might resort to English for communication. LOL. To clarify, it’s not about race, but rather about the reality that some Malaysian Chinese citizens may still struggle with conversational Bahasa Melayu despite being citizens. As someone with extensive experience in customer-facing roles, I can attest to this firsthand.

Why, then, do we continue to perpetuate these language requirements? And why are job seekers who opt not to learn Mandarin often unfairly stigmatized as lacking commitment?

It’s time to reassess our approach to language dynamics in the Malaysian workplace. Rather than succumbing to arbitrary mandates, let’s foster an environment that values linguistic diversity and promotes meritocracy based on relevant skills and qualifications.

Thanks for reading.

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