Ever since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has taken over the government, he had been pushing hard for the use of Bahasa Melayu on the international stage.
In his latest effort, Ismail had urged the cooperation among ASEAN countries so that the Malay language could be made the “lingua franca” again.
“The Malay language has its own uniqueness and advantages, especially among Asean countries. Therefore, it can be made one of the official languages of Asean,” he said when opening the International Symposium on Bahasa Melayu at Wisma Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka on Sunday (22 May).
He said that this matter requires careful planning, including from the aspects of research, publication and nurturing of the Malay language.
However, it appears that netizens were not impressed by Ismail’s insistence on the matter as there are other more pressing issues that Malaysians are currently facing.
One leading criticism was from former Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) CEO Jalil Rasheed, where he tweeted, “Yes this is the most pressing issue in the country that needs to be addressed.”
China is an economic powerhouse, everybody is rushing to learn Mandarin because they dont what to be left out. In return China can have nationalistic policies, and influence others to follow them. But you need to have something to flex first ..— Jalil Rasheed (@jalilword) May 23, 2022
He then elaborated that for a country to promote the use of their language to others, one has to become an economic powerhouse such as China. He also stressed that the country must have something to flex before it can attract others to learn its language and culture.
Meanwhile, Malaysia is currently plagued with several issues particularly rising cost of living. With the ringgit weakening, experts have projected that Malaysia import bill will soar soon.
In terms of food import alone, Malaysia has been spending around RM50 billion annually and the amount is expected to increase given ringgit’s depreciation.
Meanwhile, the rising food prices has already shown its impact on several states and Malaysians have been calling out to the government to intervene.
Over the weekends, there had been a shortage of chicken supply due to supply disruption. This came after 4 poultry companies are reported to have suspended their operations in a protest against government’s delay in providing a subsidy of 60 sen per kilogramme to poultry farmers.
One Twitter user, Aizad Khair pointed out that harping on the Malay language was Ismail Sabri’s way to reinforce identity politics, which was relevant for the his’s political survival.
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