Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has announced that Malaysia and Indonesia will work together to uplift the status of Bahasa Melayu and increase the chance of making it the ASEAN and international language.
According to a report by Bernama, Ismail said the 2 countries have agreed to use Bahasa Melayu as a language of communication at every international conference.
He said this during his official visit to the Republic on Friday (1 April), and also thanked Indonesian President Joko Widodo for his support.
“We would like to thank the Bapak Presiden (Indonesian President) for agreeing with Malaysia to enhance Bahasa Melayu, which has common roots for us,” he said.
In case you didn’t know, Bahasa Indonesia, the national language of Indonesia has the same roots as Bahasa Melayu. The language was spoken natively by only 5% of its population during Indonesia’s independence in 1945.
The new country then adopted Bahasa Melayu as its official language partly due to how widely spoken and understood it is by the approximately 1,340 ethnicities in the vast islands of Indonesia.
In fact, the declaration of Indonesian independence by its first President, Suharto was made in Bahasa Melayu, despite himself being a Javanese and the Javanese language having the most native speakers in the country.
This was a testament to Bahasa Melayu’s popularity and previous status as lingua franca in the Southeast Asian region.
Ismail said that the language is widely used in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Southern Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines.
He also hoped the joint efforts between both Malaysia and Indonesia will reinvigorate Bahasa Melayu and make it an official ASEAN language.
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