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Eh, cukup lah Rais Yatim

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/carworld/

So, yesterday evening, I saw a Tweet by @staronline about an article on Information, Communications, Culture and Arts Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim’s call for the private sector to use Bahasa Malaysia more widely to “dignify the national language”.

My immediate response, being a *cough* good *cough* Malaysian brought up speaking the national language was: “Ah, belah lah.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the national language but I think calls like the one the Minister made makes little sense, and frankly, a campaign like that would be a waste of time. What is the objective of such a campaign? Most Malaysians are already able to speak the language – speaking it well, is another matter – as our education system uses Bahasa Malaysia (well, short for the private school and vernacular schools).

The article reads:

Information, Communications, Culture and Arts Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said currently, Bahasa Malaysia usage in the banking and shipping industry, commerce and legal fields was still at a low level.

In view of this, he said, the ministry — with the cooperation of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) — would carry out continuous campaigns to “enculture Bahasa Malaysia usage” as well as make it an appealing language.

My contention is this. Malaysians in general should already have a command of the language (we do need to pass all our SPM papers after all which are mostly in Bahasa Malaysia) to communicate with one another – when the need arises. If there are anybody who left Government schools unable to speak the language, then isn’t it really the fault of education rather than the language itself? And how does one make a language more appealing anyway? Create a bunch of new words?

My worry is the motivation behind this campaign. Could it be personal? Anyone who watched that video clip (below) Malaysiakini recorded during a press conference where Rais, in the most vile and venomous way, put down a reporter of an English daily, can see that the Minister obviously have problems with other language such as English.

But I digress. Reading the earlier mentioned article, I find it hard to comprehend some of the things Rais is suggestion.

Among them was that the leaders should communicate well and more often in the national language, including at official meetings, while it was also suggested that forums and conventions held in the country not be conducted in English.

This is almost laughable. Are we so arrogant to believe that we can conduct effective forums and conventions in the country in our own language? This would mean that only Malaysians, maybe some Indonesians and Singaporeans as well as um, foreign linguist familiar with our national language will be able to participate in our events?

I’m sorry Datuk Seri, but by sheer volume of speakers, we lose to so many other languages – English, French, Spanish, Chinese just to name a few – and we expect people who speak this language to understand ours before they can participate in our forums and conventions? Hah!

And then he said:

“Our national language can be the vehicle for racial unity and communication to facilitate the realisation of 1Malaysia involving all the communities in the country.”

How on earth is our national language going to help realise the 1Malaysia concept? For the life of me, I can’t understand it. Surely, a concept like 1Malaysia is about inclusiveness and not exclusiveness.

But I guess this is what you get with a culture minister who is, as the video above shows, uncultured.

9.14am Malaysian time (+8 GMT)
Picture above taken from Auswandern Malaysia/Flickr under Creative Common License.

13 Comments

Swee Ping

My only expression is -_-||

kenwooi

BM? I guess English is a more proper language to use when we want to be known throughout the world.. wonder what would happen if everything is in BM, and the other ang moh countries can’t understand a single thing about us..

i guess they have nothing better to do..

Information, Communication, Cultural & Arts Minister? Why not improve streamyx? Communication eh.. 😉

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Will Quah

Hear hear. Quite right. The man is desperately grasping at initiatives to appear to be actually doing some semblance of a job. Worse, when the PM is calling for increased infrastructure and opportunities to attract foreign investment and intellectual human capital and “knowledge workers”, this fellows apes those calls to action and tries to pull the country back into the stone age. Malaysia floats on foreign income, and quite frankly would still be a muddy kampung were it not for it’s international contributers, be it expats or the heavily and intentionally maginalized second class citenzenry of the Chinese and Indians. To make these steps, for a language with little world impact or interest, and which has a vocabulary that is a patchwork of stolen words, is ludicrous and foolish, and will drive the last vestiges of interest the international community has for good. We are not japan or china or even Russia, who are all worthy enough to force a language usage thanks to their obvious political and economic strength. We’re an amusing little country that is at best the tiny dot on the map above Singapore, and is at worst, a grasping parasitic nation with little intrinsic value, sickeningly consumed by jealousy for the host on which it sucks.
Let’s not be such a bother that we get swatted away for good from the only way we can survive. If we wanted cavemen in power, we would… well, actually, we just don’t.
Someone get him a job obscuring boobs in women’s weekly with a marker pen or burning books – somewhere he’ll be happy.

    cl

    What utter ignorance you’ve displayed here! English and Japanese are also “stealers” in your context! If you keep on going like this, in a few years’ time we’d be mired in a civil war. Mind you I’m not a fan of the current establishment, in fact the Pakatan Rakyat is far more vociferous in their promise to dignify BM, especially its leader Anwar Ibrahim who sparked the late 60s unrest that forced the govt to switch the medium from English to BM. People like you who insult native tongues to further their cause are only scaring people away from learning English.

Veena

On an international level, we should speak english, and we should speak it well.If we want to be internationally relevant, that is. The idea of holding international conferences in BM is ludicrous as like you said it is exclusive.

At the same time, I wish more of our ministers, locally, spoke BM (public speaking wise) better.

When I ask why they speak so poorly, ppl respond it is the only way the public will understand. That does not reflect well on the quality of BM on either party.

Apparently BM at one point was the most widely spoken language in the world? Havent checked up on that fact yet though..

I guess us all speaking one language, may unite us more, but we already do that, so why the campaign? Oh and by the way, when i was way up in Bario at a random badminton competition, i too heard “Salaam 1Malaysia” said by the penghulu of the kampung. Yikes.

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sallyfield

I think it is OK for Rais to suggest use BM to unite us all. Well, of course he shouldnt embarass people that way lah. And that reporter also so dumb, go meet a cultural minister, and speak in English..learn your ettiquette and your audience. If I were to go to Germany, I speak in german.That said, use of English is also important because like any other language than English, how many people can speak or understand a single spanish, italian, chinese, malay etc…English is now the lingua franca./ We use it not because it is any better than BM or any other language..but it bridges everyone. However, to make BM what it was ( it was used as a trading language, did u know that?) there are many issues that the government need to look at. Campaign is one thing, but what about the idle DBP..they only talked among themselves and do nothing that excite people to wonder about the language. Then what about the official letters to the ministries. it was required to use malay last time i remember..now we can use basically anything. These are smaller issues as compared to the attraction of the language to make others want to learn it. Like, economic and cultural relations of the country with others. What are the ambassadors and tourist promotion offices doing ..does anyone know?

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EVo

I’m utterly disgusted. I wonder if he actually deserves all that attention on twitter or not. What a cheap shot.

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cl

In terms of dignifying Bahasa Malaysia, action speaks louder than words. First of all, please watch the following clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=693MletUbs0

Clips like this show me what’s missing in Malaysian culture that its national language became so undignified. We don’t have an active culture of localization and are too dependent on the education system to uphold BM. As I speak today, even India and the Philippines are actively dubbing English-language films to their respective native tongues.

I believe the politicians would be glad to watch this clip, too, to get an idea to bring BM back to life.

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