Imposing fines for incorrect use of BM ‘ridiculous’, says Baru

Baru Bian

KUCHING, Nov 16: The proposal to impose fines on the incorrect use of Bahasa Malaysia is ridiculous, says state PKR chairman Baru Bian.

“This proposal to impose fines for people’s weakness in a language is immature, ill-conceived and a waste of time and resources. It will not benefit any party in the end,” the Ba Kelalan assemblyman said in a press statement today.

He said imposing such a fine is ridiculous because languages, including Bahasa Malaysia, are always evolving, and people continue to learn the language as it evolves.

“Many words are adopted from the English language, and this is necessary where there are no equivalent words in Bahasa Malaysia for the term. This is especially true in the scientific and technical fields. Would some people consider these adaptions as improper?” he asked.

“This could also well be a politically motivated strategy for West Malaysian audiences, designed to divide the people and to foment resentment and insecurity,” he added.


Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka would be empowered to impose a fine of RM1,000 for the incorrect use of Bahasa Malaysia via a proposed amendment to the National Language Act 1963 and Education Act 1996.

Emphasising that there isn’t any standard, definition of ‘proper Bahasa Malaysia’, Baru said such a draconian act to punish Bahasa Malaysia speakers will only cause resentment and avoidance of the language.

The prominent lawyer also said that such a move is unconstitutional.

He said that in Sarawak, English is recognised as an official language as provided for under the Malaysian Agreement. This right is further safeguarded in Art 161 in Part XIIA of the Federal Constitution. Furthermore, the government is encouraging the people to excel in English, as it is recognised as the lingua franca of the world, and mastery of the English language is necessary to be global players in all fields.

He said such a move by the federal government is another manifestation of the high handedness of government officials who have the mistaken belief that punishment yields results. — Dayak Daily