MoCS to Anwar: What’s wrong with other languages?

Francis Siah - file pic

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KUCHING, Oct 18: Movement of Change, Sarawak (MoCS) has labelled Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s remark that all government events and press conferences should be conducted in Bahasa Malaysia as “plain silly and absurd”.

Its chairman Francis Siah said the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president must explain what is wrong with speaking both Bahasa and English, as well as other languages to a mixed audience at official events and press conferences.

“Even press conferences are also covered by journalists from the foreign media. That being the case, Anwar’s instruction could be described as ‘stupid’ because it is not in tandem with the government’s encouragement for Malaysians to pick up different languages.

“We also have to ask the incoming prime minister since when did Bahasa Malaysia becomes Bahasa Melayu. Isn’t the official language of our multi-racial nation Bahasa Malaysia? Was it ever officially changed to Bahasa Melayu – meaning the language of the Malays?” Siah said.

He reiterated that MoCS was shocked that the prime minister-in-waiting was now talking about upholding Bahasa Melayu as the official language of the country.

“If the motive is political expediency on Anwar’s part, which involves pandering to a certain race, then Malaysians have reasons to worry of the future directions the incoming prime minister would be heading.

“Perhaps Anwar has to be reminded that not all Malaysians are in favour of him succeeding (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister. It is possible they have valid reasons not to,” he added.

Siah also reminded Anwar that in Sarawak, English is an official language besides Bahasa, as decreed by the late chief minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem.

“At official events, Adenan was comfortable in speaking Bahasa (Melayu) Sarawak and this was actually something that endeared him to many Sarawakians,” he said.

Siad added that a great leader does not have to instruct or insist on a certain language to be spoken as long as the speaker’s message is understood by his audience.

“This is something which Anwar, as the incoming prime minister, should take a cue from,” he stressed.

MoCS was reacting to Anwar’s recent comment in Melaka for leaders and members of official government councils must use the Malay language as a medium of instruction, as part of the effort to uphold it as a language of knowledge.

The Port Dickson MP had said that the protests and doubts from certain parties were not obstacles against the efforts to uphold Bahasa Melayu as the official language of the country, but the current leaders and Pakatan Harapan government must give their undivided commitment to the effort.

“Recently, I was at a conference organised by a ministry, where there were ambassadors from other countries. From the very beginning, the whole conference was in English, including the doa.

“I commented to the minister that we should change this approach because government events, especially national events held within the country, should be conducted in Malay,” Anwar was reported as saying at Ayer Keroh on Oct 14.

Anwar said this in his keynote address at the closing ceremony of the state-level Malay Archipelago Language and Letters Congress, which was launched by Melaka chief minister Adly Zahari. — DayakDaily