The Use of National Language Should be Paramount
FRIDAY, 20 MAY 2011 00:00
By Shahfizal Musa
Pix by Saliman Leman
BANGI, 19 May, 2011- The reluctance by certain sections of the non-Malays to use Bahasa Malaysia has rendered it a mere formality and an ornament to them instead of accepting it as a tool to unite the different races.
The group has also wrongly felt that they were protected by the Constitution even when not using the language at all.
This was stated by Deputy Director of the Institute of Malay World and Civilisation (ATMA) Prof Dr Teo Kok Seong when giving his views on issues affecting the National Language at a discussion here yesterday.
Criticism and attacks against the National Language by the Malays themselves have also made other races lose their respect for the language.
Thus some non-Malays have made use of the social media to emotionally attack use of the language instead of presenting well thought out arguments for their neglect of the language. Such negative attitude do not augur well for the unity of the nation, he said.
Prof Teo said issues about the National language is not limited to grammar or linguistics but involves the perception of non Malays towards the language and also have an effect on ethnic relations.
From the historical perspective the Malay language must be upheld as the national language, he said.
The government, he said, should also stick to using Malay in the teaching of science and mathematics in schools because linguistically the language is more than adequate for that.
Saroja Theavy a former teacher and now a prolific writer in Malay who have won more than 20 awards for her writings said that the teaching of the language in schools has not been given its due. The syllabus for the national language does not do justice to both students and teachers.
Questions for the paper in the School Certificate examinations and time allotted to answer them had nearly doubled but the time allocated for the subject had not been increased.
As a result teacher were forced to rush through their teaching of the language so as to finish the syllabus in time before the exams. Thus teachers for the Bahasa paper could not give proper and due attention to its teaching making it becoming a chore. In the end students also do not find it a joy any more to learn the language.
She said technological advancement had also affected the reading culture and that had also affected its usage.
Dato’ Adilah Shek Omar the Director of the Tun Abdul Razak Institute of Broadcasting and Information said that there was no commitment to the language by those who should be upholding it.
She said grammar mistakes and spelling errors could be seen in almost all the major broadcast and print media. This should not be happening since the language is simple enough to learn and understood.
She said the propensity to mix Bahasa and English not just in everyday usage but even on formal occasions has added to the problem. Some people in the media think that language is merely to communicate a message and it would suffice so long as it is understood.
This is not acceptable to her because if everyone have such a non committal attitude towards the language, not only will the beauty of the language be lost but it will also create confusion.
Director of ATMA Prof Dr Abdul Latif Hj Samian, students and lecturers from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities were present at the discussions.