The government has been pushing hard for the use of Bahasa Melayu locally as well as on the international stage. However, this initiative has not gone well with some states of the country.
Recently, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) board of governors chairman Prof Datuk Seri Dr Awang Sariyan said that those who do not respect the national language can be imposed a fine of up to RM50,000 or sentenced to imprisonment.
He said these punishments were among items proposed in amendments to the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) Act 1959, which are now in the final stage of discussion before being presented to the Prime Minister next month.
“This is not grammar or spelling errors, but disrespect for the national language. The proposed fine is not to punish but to evoke love and patriotism to the country.” he explained.
Awang said that DBP has also proposed that the National Language Act be amended in line with the amendments to the DBP Act so that it could carry out its duties as a language enforcer more effectively.
“The National Language Act is the parent act to the DBP Act. If it is expanded, the government can ask DBP to implement the language policy more effectively,” he said.
He added that the amendments should be implemented holistically, not only in terms of enforcement but also in the aspect of internationalisation, accreditation and licencing of literary languages.
Meanwhile, Awang’s proposal did not go well among Malaysians as they took to social media to highlight the problems with this policy.
“Define ‘do not respect’.” a netizen asked.
Let punish all tho who short form Bahasa Malaysia badly included over their texting that sometime u didn’t even know what it mean. Will see the Low still wan support such kind of move or not. This country surely look more scary nowadays when some these extremist slowly take over.— Fido MY (@fidododiMY) June 22, 2022
One netizen pointed out that this will instead deter people from using the language for fear of offending it.
“Institutionalised racism reinforced by yet another law. Poets, not judges, should promote a language’s beauty and dignity,” another netizen commented.
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