June 26, 2015
COMMENT: Both GAPENA and Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka have a vested interest to preserve Bahasa Malaysia as the sole medium of instruction in our schools and universities. At least the Dewan has now acknowledged the importance of the English. In doing so, they realize that English is the language of diplomacy and commerce. GEPENA remains adamant.
I do not understand the need to have a law to enforce the use of Bahasa Malaysia and why make English a second language on the false assumption that by using English, we will make Malaysians less Malaysian and the Malays less Malay. It has again to do with UMNO politics of xenophobia .We want Malaysians with a global mindset and multilingual proficiency to compete and excel in the 2st century world.
I remember in the 60’s (Tun) Ghazalie Shafie, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs saying to my colleagues and I at one of our Friday prayer meetings that as far as he was concerned English would remain the language of Malaysian diplomacy and in his Ministry we should read, write and speak English. He ,however, insisted that we use Bahasa Malaysia in our official dealings with our counterparts in the civil service and government agencies.
When I joined Bank Negara after leaving the Foreign Ministry in 1965, Governor (Tun) Ismail Mohamed Ali decided that we could use English internally but we had a duty to observe the ruling from the Government to use Bahasa Malaysia as the national language for official communication with the civil service.
Not just that. Governor Ismail set up a Bahasa Malaysia unit to oversea the implementation of this directive. He did it in compliance with a directive, not with a language law because he felt it was the right thing. to do. It was also the time when Bank Negara started to issue the Bahasa and English language versions of its Annual Report and Quarterly Economic Report. That tradition has continued to this day. I am proud to say that Bank Negara officers of the present generation are among the most proficient in the use of English and Bahasa Malaysia.
Let me say something about the Cambodian approach on the teaching of Khmer language and English in their schools and universities. Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen is a champion of Khmer Language, arts, and culture. When he was growing up, Cambodia was still under France and French was the official language. But he was educated in a Buddhist temple and served as a pagoda boy. He learned to read, write and speak Khmer. There were French schools which catered for the elite.
With the formation of the Royal Government in the early 1990’s, Samdech Hun Sen saw the value of English if Cambodia were to network in ASEAN and engage with the rest of the world. He decided to use English in public schools with Khmer as a medium of instruction. At the same time, he allowed private schools to use English as medium of instruction. and encouraged enterprising Cambodians to set up language schools to teach Mandarin, Korean, Japanese. French and other languages. At university level, courses are taught in Khmer and English.
At the University of Cambodia, its President Dr. Kao Kim Hourn(left) made a far sighted decision to offer courses at undergraduate and graduate levels in both languages. At the Techo Sen School of Government and International Relations, courses will mainly be in English at the postgraduate level The university’s Language Development Center offers programmes for enhancing English language writing and speaking skills to all students.
In short, because Cambodia practises multilingualism, parents are given freedom of choice in their free market driven economy. By adopting this open education policy, Samdech Hun Sen who himself speaks Khmer, English and Vietnamese, is encouraging his people to be internationalists, without making them less Cambodian and less patriotic. –Din Merican
Malay Language Nationalists defend Bahasa Malaysia as Medium of Instruction
by Bernama @www.freemalaysiatoday.com
The Federation of National Writers’ Association (GAPENA) Chief 1, Abdul Latiff Bakar said that the time has come for the government to have a law which could act against agencies, departments and local councils which fail to uphold the national language in their official affairs.
“We have brought this matter up many times, but there has been no development. For now we can only comment but if there is a law, any party which refuses to obey it (upholding the national language) can be punished,” he said.
He also urged the Education Ministry to make it compulsory for the senates of institutes of higher learning to observe the regulation to uphold the national language in their administrations.
“As educational institutes, they have a big responsibility to uphold the Malay language and not just chase rankings,” he said as a panelist at the forum “Challenges of the National Language in the Era of Globalisation” here today.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), Awang Sariyan said that the DBP would conduct a language audit on six public universities in a move to ensure that universities in the country abide by the regulations. He added that the DBP had so far audited 37 of the 149 local councils in the country in a move to award star ratings for councils that used Bahasa Melayu in their official dealings.
“From the audit we conducted, the usage of Bahasa Melayu in official matters including advertisements is still unsatisfactory. However, there are some local councils which we give five stars, including the Shah Alam City Council,” he said in the forum.
He said the ranking was one of the initiatives taken by the government to encourage local councils to uphold Bahasa Melayu.
DBP chairman Dr Md Salleh Yaapar said the education system should retain Bahasa Melayu as its medium of instruction and its usage was not the reason for the weak command of the English language among students.
“We acknowledge the importance of English and are not opposing it…other languages can be used including English, but this is not an excuse for replacing Bahasa Melayu as the medium of instruction in schools,” he said.