Include guidelines over multilingual road signs in local laws, urges Sarawak PKR Women

Cherishe Ng

KUCHING, Aug 24: Sarawak PKR Women’s chief Cherishe Ng calls on local councils in Sarawak to enact proper decrees to ensure consistent diversity in Sarawak’s multilingual road signs.

Ng who is also Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Kuching Division Women’s chief asserted the existence of multilingual road signs have always been a part of Sarawak’s culture — it highlights Sarawak’s tolerance and acceptance of multiculturism.

She urged the Ministry of Local Government and Housing which has jurisdiction over local councils to come up with relevant laws in relation to multilingual road signs.

“Such a legislation is the most pragmatic solution and will put to rest all current and future dispute over multilingual issues. However, it should not be bulldozed (through) but should consider all relevant parties’ suggestions and opinions,” Ng opined in a statement.

She also opined that Sarawak’s cultural diversity is different from West Malaysia’s as in the latter, the majority race is Malay but in Sarawak, the majority is Iban.

“Sarawak has more than 40 sub-ethnic groups, each with their own distinct culture, language, lifestyle and customs. We cannot import West Malaysian mindset into Sarawak, and we must never succumb to their racial toxicity.

“Multilingual road signs in Sarawak was never a racial issue and it should not be made one. If we want to preach cultural tolerance and diversity, we should practise it as well.

“There is absolutely no disadvantage to having multilingual road signs. It does not impose any difficulty on anyone but rather helps those who have difficulty in reading just the Malay language — especially our elderly who are not adept at technology.

“It will also strengthen our unity because we are inclusive, and the people feel like they are not sidelined. Such political and cultural stability may even attract foreign investments or tourism from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, China and others,” Ng highlighted.

She also pointed out that although Article 152 of the Federal Constitution stipulates that the Malay language shall be the national language, the proviso states that no one shall be prohibited or prevented from using any other language, and this Article shall not prejudice the right of Sarawak to preserve and sustain the use of any other language. In other words, the use of multilingual road signs is completely in line with the Federal Constitution.

“Acts such as the National Language Act 1963/1967, and Local Government Act 1976 do not even apply to Sarawak. So, what is the point of bringing them up?”

That said however, she emphasised that erecting multilingual road signs must be done through the appropriate and proper means.

“We should never take the law into our own hands. Laws are there for a reason, and as civilised people, we must follow them. Intention is a separate issue from legal obedience.

“The bottom line is — let us live together in harmony. — DayakDaily