MP to Minister: Multi-lingual signboards a non-issue in Sarawak

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, Nov 27: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii says the use of multi-lingual signboards has never been an issue in Sarawak.

He, thus, disagreed with Federal Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin’s attempt to introduce a nationwide guideline to standardise road signs next year to promote and strengthen the use of Bahasa Malaysia.

“I have the opinion that while I respect the intention of the guidelines, (but) it may only be a form of guideline but cannot be enforced and may not be applicable in Sarawak.

“The fact of the matter is that the presence of multi-lingual signboards has not been an issue in Sarawak. Rather, it is celebrated based on our respect for diversity and importance of different languages.

“While we also support the promotion of our national language, (but) there are a lot of ways to promote it besides the changing of road signs that may incur unnecessary additional cost,” said Dr Yii in a statement today.


He pointed out that based on rights and agreements during the founding days of the Federation of Malaysia, Sarawak had certain autonomous powers when it comes to the running of the local government.

“English itself is still treated as the second official language of Sarawak and is used as the official language in the courts of Sarawak and also in the proceedings in the State Assembly.

“So, while I respect the intention of the guideline, I encourage the federal government to understand the autonomous powers we have as a territory and, thus, more consultations have to be done for any federal policies to take its hold in Sarawak.

“As the Americans would say, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’,” said Dr Yii.

Zuraida had on Nov 22 announced that her ministry would issue stricter guidelines on the use of Bahasa Malaysia for roadsigns nationwide. She added that the ministry would review the matter and come out with more strict guidelines to further promote the use of Bahasa Malaysia among the people. — DayakDaily