KUALA LUMPUR: The government needs the support of all stakeholders, especially parents, teachers and parent-teacher associations, to reinstate English-medium schools, said Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan. He said English is an international language and it will give children a competitive edge, adding that Malaysia was once considered a nation of high English proficiency. "My main worry is it will be turned into a political issue if the government goes ahead with the plan without the support of all the stakeholders. "I personally believe that English schools are vital for human capital growth and Sabah will be more than willing to be the first state to have such a school," he told reporters after delivering his keynote address at the Future of Work, Workplace and Workforce conference here yesterday. Abdul Rahman pointed out that today many employers have stated that local graduates are unable to speak the language and this will play a role in the type of job they get. He said this does not mean that other schools will be ignored, a English medium school can also be part of the national education system. "If we can have Chinese, Tamil and religious-based schools and others such as national and private, there is no reason why we cannot have English-medium schools," Abdul Rahman said. The minister urged all those who want English medium schools to speak up and only with consensus can the government start working on setting up such schools. He added that any plan to see the return of such schools must go beyond politicians as parents can play an important part in promoting such ideas. The Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar had recently urged Malaysia to revive English-medium schools much like those in Singapore, pointing out that because of the policy the island state has done well for itself. "Let's be honest with ourselves. Singapore has done well as a country. Their students have fared very well in Mathematics and Science. The prominent use of English has set them ahead of us," he said. A survey by Singapore's Yusof Ishak Institute (Iseas) released on Nov 13 revealed that eight out of 10 Johoreans want the return of English-medium schools in the state. It said support was strong across all demographic segments, even among Malay and rural respondents who in the past were not that supportive of the Dual Language Programme (DLP) to teach mathematics and science in English. The survey said the support was highest among Indians at 88%, followed by Chinese (87%) and Malays (77%).