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Tamil fluency at a Chinese family of eight in Morib

  • Low (L) attending a Deepavali open house event with Kuala Langat district councilor Sethupathy A/L Subramaniam (R). Photo courtesy: Sinar Harian
  • Low (R5) mingling with local residents during an official function. Photo courtesy: Sinar Harian
  • Low (L1) and Morib state assemblyman Hasnul Baharuddin (R1) attending a Deepavali function at a district councilor's house. Photo courtesy: Sinar Harian
  • Low (L) attending a Deepavali function hosted by Parti Amanah Negara. Photo courtesy: Sinar Harian

KUALA LANGAT, Sept 11 (Sin Chew Daily) -- While Malaysians are known to be linguists, being able to speak at least two or more languages, very few Chinese Malaysians are fluent in Tamil.

Low Kok Hua is one of very few Chinese Malaysians who speak very fluent Tamil.

The 50-year-old man from Selangor started speaking Tamil when he was 15. He picked up the language skill at his father's bicycle shop.

The bicycle shop was near a plantation and majority of its customers were Indians.

To Low, Tamil was a very difficult language to learn. Although he never attended a formal Tamil class, he has managed to master the language through continuous efforts over the years.

“Most of the Indians at the plantation did not speak Malay. So I had to learn Tamil in order to communicate with them.

“I started by listening carefully what they said, and only had the confidence to speak when I was at secondary school.”

Even parents-in-law speak Tamil

Besides Low, his entire family also speak or at least understand some Tamil, including his parents-in-law.

“I spoke Tamil with my siblings at home when we were young in order to master the language. It was not easy at all!”

As for Low's mother-in-law, she speaks Tamil because she used to work in the plantation and most of her friends were Indians. However, his wife does not speak Tamil because she was raised in the Malay society.

In the past Low learned Tamil for business, today his language skill is put to use to help the local residents.

Low has been a Kuala Langat councilor since last year. He is also the personal assistant for Morib state assemblyman Hasnul Baharuddin.

Thanks to his fluency in Tamil, he has been able to convey the problems of the local Indian community to the state government.

 

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