There was an uproar in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday (23 November) as the Members of Parliament (MP) debated on the usage of Bahasa Malaysia by government officials assigned to tasks overseas.
The matter was first raised by Sepang MP Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, where he asked whether government officials have mastered the English language prior to being assigned overseas.
“Recently, we saw a minister give a speech in Bahasa Malaysia at an event in Glasgow, Scotland.”
“I have no problem with him speaking in Bahasa Malaysia, it is his right to do so.”
“But his action was portrayed as him attempting to elevate our national language on a global level.”
“Is this really the case, or was the incident being ‘spinned’ because he lacks the skills to speak English?”
“Just be honest, if you are inept, we can send you for language courses.” he said in the Dewan Rakyat.
In response, the Sik MP Ahmad Tarmizi Sulaiman appeared to be annoyed by his remarks and he asked Hanipa whether he is implying that foreign languages are of a higher status than the national tongue.
“Do you think that we are unqualified to speak and uphold our national language on an international platform?”
Hanipa then jokingly replied “There’s no need to answer my question since you don’t understand it.”
There was an outburst of emotions when Tarmizi shouted back “Apa yang tak faham? (What is it that I do not understand?)”
Refusing to let the matter go, Hanipa asked if the Tarmizi did not understand him because he was speaking in Bahasa Malaysia.
“Shall I speak in English?” he asked, while making the other MPs in the Dewan Rakyat laugh before moving on to another issue.
During the recent 26th Conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was held from 31 October to 12 November, the Environment and Water Minister Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man had delivered his speech in Bahasa Malaysia.
There were a mixed reaction from the public, with some praising him for upholding the nation language at an international conference, while others criticised him for his ability to delivery a speech in English.
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