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 â€œenculture Bahasa Malaysia usageâ€ 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:
â€œOur national language can be the vehicle for racial unity and communication to facilitate the realisation of 1Malaysia involving all the communities in the country.â€
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)