Malaysians who prefer to communicate using English over Bahasa Melayu are still trapped within a colonial mindset, says PAS President Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang.
“Ignore the incoherent voices that are delirious, because these are either people who are still sleeping in the shadow of the colonial era, or those who are crazy in wanting to force the abandonment of Bahasa Malaysia,” Abdul Hadi said in a statement on Saturday (2 July).
Meanwhile, he also criticised those who belittle the Bahasa Melayu language.
“Their souls are still trapped with the former colonists who previously enslaved them,” he said.
He also lamented those who prioritize the usage of English in official events.
“Advertisements in shops and the market, as well as the names of cities and roads, are named in English even though a majority of its target audience does not know English,” Abdul Hadi said.
“At the same time, they do not care about whether their audiences consist of Malaysians who do not know English.”
On 24 May, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali was reported to have said he hope the Public Service Department (JPA) would consider action against those who did not take instructions relating to the use of Bahasa Malaysia in the civil service seriously.
On 21 June, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) board of governors chairman Datuk Seri Awang Sariyan proposed that those who do not respect the national language be fined up to RM50,000 or sentenced through imprisonment through several legal amendments.
Abdul Hadi then said the proposed punishment would need an amendment to the DBP Act 1959. He added that the amendment is currently in the final stages of discussions before it is presented to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob next month.
Meanwhile, the move has met with several criticisms and among them who voice out against it is former international trade and industry minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.
In a statement, Rafidah said that other Asean countries may not respond well if Malaysian civil servants were forced to use Bahasa Malaysia when corresponding with the international community.
“If this mindset of being inward-looking persists, with even penalties imposed for not communicating with the rest of the world in Bahasa Malaysia, then we will be the bureaucratic pariahs in Asean,” she said.
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