Linguistic Supremacy and Hegemony: The Roads Not Taken post-1969

By Farish A Noor

(Below is an excerpt of an essay I am currently writing entitled: “The Many Roads Not Taken post-1969′)

Our failure to develop a Malaysian language for us all:

One of the most glaring failures of the Malaysian nation-building project is our failure to develop a national language that is actually used as the lingua franca of all Malaysians. While the laborious debate over whether BM should be termed ‘Bahasa Malaysia’ or ‘Bahasa Melayu’ has been raging for decades, it is clear that Malaysia’s plural society remains divided along linguistic-cultural lines. The thorny issue of what constitutes the ‘mother tongue’ of so many Malaysians has led to at least one major political conflagration among the component parties of the BN, which in turn was used as the justification for the nation-wide security crackdown called ‘Operasi Lalang’ in 1987. Ironically it is well known to all and sundry that despite the ethno-linguistic posturing of the hot-headed communitarian leaders of the BN over the issue in the 1980s, these very same elites continued to speak to each other in English in private.

The hypocrisy of our leaders – from all parties – on the issue of the national language is something that no mature Malaysian ought to be stranger to by now. In fact, the issue of our national language (or lack of) has been one of the many punching-bags of Malaysian politics and every single communitarian-minded leader has jumped on the linguistic-nationalist bandwagon at least once in his or her political career.

This is perhaps one of the saddest things about Malaysia’s postcolonial politics and the development of Malaysia post-1969: It has been the case that almost every single ambitious and aspiring politician in this country has sought to rise to power by playing the communitarian card, touching on the hot buttons of race and language. It was only recently that BM was re-designated as ‘Bahasa Malaysia’ after it had been re-defined by nationalist politicians as ‘Bahasa Melayu’. The merry-go-round turns until today, and it would be prudent for us to go back to our early history to recover the moment where this country missed the point and went off track for good.

Let us begin by remind ourselves of some basic historical facts: Bahasa Malaysia was and remains a hybrid language very much like Urdu, which was dubbed as the ‘language of the camp’ and which remains an amalgam of Hindi, Persian, Arabic and other languages of Central Asia. The Malaysian language is likewise made up of words that are derived from Sanskrit, Arabic and other languages of the pribumi communities of the Southeast Asian region. Today it also betrays signs of cultural influence from the West, with English, Dutch and Portuguese words thrown into its repertoire as well.

Starting from this premise, it is difficult to understand how the Malaysian language could have been seen and used by those who wished to foreground an understanding of Malay and Malay identity as fundamentally fixed, closed and pure. Yet this was precisely what happened as soon as the debate on the status of the national language began during the 1950s.

Post-1969 witnessed the intensification of the debate over the status of the Malaysian language. The proponents of the pro-Malay policy (who wished to define BM as ‘Bahasa Melayu’ and thus identify the language with one primary racial-ethnic community) came from all the ranks of the Malay-Muslim parties, organisations, NGOs and student movements. As was the case with many other issues that caught the imagination of the Malaysian public then, most of these debates took place on the campuses of the country and were led by right-wing communitarian ethno-nationalist students who were aligned to the various Malay cultural, linguistic and religious student groups on campus, such as the Persatuan Bahasa Melayu Universiti Malaya (PBMUM) and the Malay Students’ Association of UM (PMUM).

In 1974, the student leaders of PMUM and PBMUM protested against the government’s decision to allow the creation of Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) College that had been one of MCA’s major demands on UMNO. The Malay students of the local universities were particularly angry over the government’s decision to allow a Chinese college to use English as the medium of instruction at a time when efforts were being made to make BM the medium of instruction in all the other institutions of higher learning in the country. Earlier, the students had defaced most of the campus signboards that were still in English. They also condemned the TAR College project on the grounds that as a privately run institution it would only serve as an additional source of funds for the wealthy MCA leaders. This cycle of protests and demonstrations culminated in the seizure and occupation of the local university campuses by the student unions in September 1974. Universiti Malaya’s campus was taken over by PMUM members led by Kamarazaman Yacob, who then formed the Majlis Tertinggi Sementara (Temporary Supreme Council, MTS).

While right-wing ethno-nationalist students were calling for BM to be seen as the Malay language and elevated to the status of the primary language of the country, other Malay-Muslim organisations and parties followed suit. Both UMNO and PAS were likewise adamant that the Malay language be seen as the language of the Malays, and that the recognition of BM as the national language also meant that by extension the dominance of the Malay-Muslims had to be recognised and accepted by all Malaysians.

PAS in the 1970s was led by the Malay-supremacist Asri Muda, who not only brought PAS into the ruling Barisan coalition but who also was a steadfast advocate for the special position and privilege of the Malay-Muslims. Asri’s constant attacks on the UMNO-led government’s record in the area of cultural and language development was one of the factors that put UMNO on the defensive and forced the government of the Tunku Abdul Rahman (and, later, Tun Razak) to act. In 1970, under pressure from PAS and the other defenders of the Malay language and culture, the government implemented the National Education Policy that made the promotion of the Malay language one of its key objectives. In 1971, Tun Razak followed this up with the Kongres Kebudayaan Kebangsaan (National Culture Congress) that paved the way for the Malaysian National Culture Policy which also privileged Malay culture and identity above others.

A close reading of the history of Malaysia during the years immediately after 1969 would show that practically every single Malay-Muslim leader of note: Mahathir Mohamad, Asri Muda, Anwar Ibrahim, et al. – were positioning themselves as the champions of their race, religion and language. But while Malayness and Islam could not be effectively hegemonised and used as a tool for dominance with a nation-wide impact, language could. By demanding that BM be seen as the language of the Malays and demanding that BM be given the special position that reflected the special position of the Malays, these ethno-nationalist supremacists were working to ensure that the Malaysian public domain and the Malaysian culture that developed in the wake of ’69 would be coloured with clearly identifiable Malay-Muslim hues.

The foregrounding of the Malay ethno-linguistic agenda also meant that the other ethno-linguistic communities were given two stark choices: Either to accept the supremacy of the Malay language as the national language or to opt out of the system and thereby relegate themselves to the margins of their respective ethno-linguistic ghettos. Unfortunately again, many of the leaders, spokesmen and intellectuals of the other communities chose to opt for the latter, and compounded the problem by retreating to their own linguistic enclaves.

From the 1970s to the 1990s we have seen the development of a lopsided Malaysia where one language – Bahasa Malaysia – was singled out to serve as the benchmark and collective marker of one ethnic-racial community. In the process of doing so, a systematic erasure and forgetting of BM’s hybrid and plural past and character was carried out, thereby reinforcing the impression that BM emerged almost exclusively, sui generis, out of the bosom of an undifferentiated and essentialised Malay cultural bosom. Yet all of these nationalists forgot (or chose to forget) the fact that BM was always a hybrid and eclectic lingua franca that bore the cultural traces of other communities, including the Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Thais, Indonesians, Europeans and others. Instead BM was essentialised as a unique, pure, uncontaminated language-system that it certainly was not and has never been. (Any more than we can say that any other language in the world, be it Chinese, Japanese, Tamil, English, etc. were ever ‘pure’ either.)

Compounding this situation was the cultural-linguistic impasse that had been reached that forced the other communities of Malaysia to likewise turn to their own ‘mother tongues’ for support and succour. In time, there developed various lobbies calling for the protection of mother tongue education for practically every other racial-ethnic community in Malaysia; and to make things worse many of these linguistic-communitarian advocates betrayed signs of being just as demagogic, exclusivist and even as racist as their Malay-Muslim supremacist counterparts.

Malaysia’s failure was not to create a generation of post-1969 leaders who would have discarded the values and praxis of linguistic nationalism and who would embrace diversity and hybridity instead. What Malaysia needed most of all was a leader who would have been able to say to all the communities of the country: “The Malay language is not merely the language of the Malay people: Look at the vocabulary of BM and you will clearly see the influences of every other community of Asia. So let us accept this pluralism and diversity in our language, let us play with it and expand it repertoire of words, so that it will reflect the pluralism of Malaysian society even more”. But of course such a leader never emerged – instead we were served a host of communal-minded sectarian nationalists whose only penchant was to stand on the stage and demand special rights for their special community on account of their special history and special identity, and who not once took into account the needs of Malaysia as a whole.

Had we taken the opposite path towards the recognition of diversity and pluralism that is already pre-existing in BM, imagine what could have developed? Working from the premise that BM was and is already a hybrid language with no fixed sematic and semiotic frontiers, the vocabulary of BM could have been expanded and deepened further with the introduction and adoption of more words from other languages. As it was, BM remains clearly one of the proto-Indonesian languages with strong traces of Sanskrit and Arabic thrown in. Had the designers of this new national language been given the incentive to adapt the language further, BM today would have more words that are derivative of Mandarin, Hokein, Cantonese, Tamil, Urdu, Javanese, Bugis, Acehnese, Thai, English and others.

Unlike the Indonesians next door who demonstrate an acute understanding of the plasticity of language and discourses, our national language was instead frozen in time and embalmed in official documents. Over the years what has actually developed has been the street ‘bazaar’ Malay which now serves as the real – albeit uncritical and depoliticised – lingua franca of the Malaysian people.

How sad that after half a century of coming into being, we still do not have a national language where every Malaysian citizen can find herself or himself.


  1. #1 by winterman05 on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 9:45 am

    Dr. Farish Noor has written a long history of the Malaysian Language—Bahasa Malaysia, later Bahasa Melayu and now Bahasa Malaysia the latter of which Bapa Malaysia had mentioned repeatedly that it should be called. This language , like any other language, is a HYBRID language. What does it mean? It is a language, like other languages , a LIVING, not a dead, language. It evolves over time; and it incorporates words from other languages through usage. No language can stand alone, isolated and pure as some language fanatics wish it to be. It grows; and accepts other languages. NEW words are COINED . MINTING words does not the language less relevant. So, rightly it is a HYBRID language.

    Of course, there are people who want it to be PURE, unadulterated—a VIRGIN! But in this GLOBALISED market place , you cannot live under the coconut shell and oblivious of the surroundings. You INTERACT with others who speak different tongues; and through this process of communication, you tend to mix the languages so as to understand one another.

    After all,a language is just a tool to communicate with one another. And to make others understand you, you use some words which may jar the ears of pure linguists!

    What is the purpose of a language? To communicate and to understand one another! You use SIMPLE words, not bombastic ones! Otherwise you will be talking to yourself!

    The problems of our world can be pinned down to language barriers and misunderstanding. The meanings are not clear! People do not say what they mean; and they do not mean what they say! So, there is a language barrier . Say what you mean in SIMPLE terms! BORROW words from other languages, if necessary, to make the meaning very clear: no ambiguity at all. After all, what is the role of a language ?

    S.H. Huang

  2. #2 by ric23_my on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 9:56 am

    hello, uncle lim,

    selangor exco issue still no news?

  3. #3 by ric23_my on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 10:03 am

    Another hint of being sidelined?

  4. #4 by ChinNA on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 10:14 am

    does BM help me to do business? I will the language of my customer. be it malay, chinese, tamil, english …

  5. #5 by ChinNA on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 10:15 am

    oops typo. I will USE the language of my customer. be it malay, chinese, tamil, english …

  6. #6 by tchow on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 10:24 am

    decision to join pakatan rakyat to lock certain radical leader in opposition to “keep” nuetrality on racial/religion issue is a big risk.

    decision to join pakatan rakyat to lock certain former gov. member to “maintain” in the opposition camp is a another big risk also.

    Decision to join pakatan rakyat to lock anti-BN votes rather than pro-DAP votes is another big risks.

    Each politician has their own plan. And each voter also has their own agenda as well. They can swing direction at anytime.

    Please do not bet on your reputation and your party. Someday, we have to confront to our grandsons/granddaugs

  7. #7 by lextcs on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 10:59 am

    Not only we failed to develop a national language, we failed to raise up a leader that breaks all ethnic, religious and gender divides to usher Malaysia to sustained peace and prosperity. Look at what’s happenning now amongst our new Pakatan Rayat. Seems everyone is waiting for DSAI to take his ‘rightful’ place. But is the No 1 post his rightful throne? I believe as plural as a society could progress our choice of a leader should not be based on selected racial lines. I believe YB kit has what it takes to be Prime Minister if given the mandate. Or perhaps he just like to play 2nd fiddle like what uncle Sam, uncle siewsin, uncle ling (just to name a few) used to do. In that case, its pot calling the kettle black.

    So why dont we just rise to the challenges and make this country a better place for you and for me.

  8. #8 by Godfather on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 11:15 am

    Oh no, Farish, not another call to “engineer” a common Bahasa Malaysia. Eventually, our system will gravitate towards what is needed to compete, to survive. This means that for those who want to be civil servants, they can choose to learn only BM. For those who are more ambitious, they can choose to emphasise more on English or even Mandarin. As long as we have freedom of choice and a level playing field, the demands of the marketplace will dictate the emphasis on the languages we use.

  9. #9 by strupper2003 on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 11:16 am

    Did not Zam Zam ala Kazam rigorously defend the use of infotainmen as in RTM2, Saluran Infotainmen Anda.

    Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka recoiled and Malaysians know Umno can do whatever it wants, and don’t you dare question it.

  10. #10 by lakilompat on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 11:45 am

    During Tun Dr. Mahathir 22 yrs of regime, opposition have no chance to attack at all. That’s why until today not much progress are been addressed.

    Even today gang of Tun Dr. Mahathir (Khir Toyo) disallowed or prevent UMNO leader Hasnizan Adham from Sekichan to finish his sentence just to ask question related to Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim during the ‘Umno Pasca Pilihanraya ke-12: Satu Penilaian’ Who dare to ask? Tun Dr. Mahathir is a pure hypocrite, accused UMNO been arrogant, and completely paralyzed. And now what they can do is to shut those UMNO leader from within?

  11. #11 by baoqingtian on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 11:48 am

    People claim that once you are out of M’sia, you can forget about BM. This show how unimportant BM is. But the problem in M’sia is, too much emphasis is put on BM so much so that other much widely used languages like English and Chinese are neglected.

  12. #12 by limkamput on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 11:52 am

    We have a robust and international language called English that was/is for all. But messed it up completely.

  13. #13 by gofortruth on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 12:46 pm

    Singapore has got this right.
    Everyone study English (the most spoken language in the world) as the primary language that way they not only take care of internal communication, they are also at ease in the international markets (higher education & commerce etc) and be very competitive.

    Everyone also study a second language according to their races so that they don’t lose their own unique culture.
    Simple and far sighted.

    The French people used to hate the English language in the past for obvious reason but today they have made it a compulsory subject in the school. Even the French can be humbled by global development and take drastic measure to change and why are we Malaysians still harping about BM?

  14. #14 by shortie kiasu on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 1:19 pm

    If the elementary education system in the country allows only the use of mono lingual, how do you expect the people, especially the young to start to have diversity in the BM language?

    They know no other language other than his BM. The administrators and the politicians wanted to be seen to be puritanical to gain political support in the poll.

    The development of diversity in the language would never come.

  15. #15 by lakilompat on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 2:01 pm

    I’m still proud of Malaysian because our English is much better than French, Japanese, Korean, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Philipines, and Thais as they have their own languages. I once stayed in Hachioji, Japan for 1 week, it is very hard to find an english speaking girls on the street. We don’t speak Malaysian or Malay to our friends, and relatives. We are multi race, that’s why BM is not relevant in Malaysia unlike in Japan everyone speak Japanese.

    If we are mono race then it’s fine to have a common language. We should follow English it is universal languages.

  16. #16 by Jimm on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 2:12 pm

    To my personal opinion, UMNO just used BM as an subject to control the Malays and gain their support to stay in power in the government.
    For 51 years what have they been doing ?
    Instigate more racialism issues among Malaysian and stop the development of Malaysian Malaysia.
    Language are purely turned into a political subject by UMNO.

  17. #17 by lakilompat on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 3:27 pm

    That’s what killing them today, if they continue the way they are doing 51 yrs ago it won’t work. The ppl has awakened for those Southerner it is also time to wake up.

  18. #18 by chuchueey on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 4:28 pm

    Farish’s suggestion of letting BM evolve from a rojak sources of Mandarin, Hokein, Cantonese, Tamil, Urdu, Javanese, Bugis, Acehnese, Thai,and English is not practical and will not work.
    Some expert sources have commented that switching from using English to BM has set the country back by 3 generations. Had English been allowed to be used after the British changeover we would have a Malaysian nation that is modern, forward, progressive and tourist friendly and we won’t always have to be compared with countries like Thailand, Vietnam and certain African countries. But no, some ultra-nationalistic buffoon had to essentialise BM, but now we have to back track in schools, higher institutions of learning and in commerce.
    English would have been an ideal middle ground language for the various ethnic groups, where to each group there is no loss but a lot of gain.

  19. #19 by lakilompat on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 4:49 pm

    The education level has also been decreased or purposely handicap so that the population of Malay getting straight “A” or merely passing will be higher.

    This is to proof that the education is doing well which in actual fact, they can’t cope with the pressure at higher learning overseas.

  20. #20 by jetaime on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 8:05 pm

    If anyone gets a chance to mingle with others from the either west or Asian origins, you will find, one can easily be known as a Malaysian from one’s spoken language. The response given is only Malaysians can speak better English, as well as Cantonese, Mandarin and Bahasa Malaysia as well as the Indian language.
    That is one of the main identities that a Malaysian unknowingly carries overseas and this is a unique characteristic which Malaysians should be proud of and should continue to maintain for many generations to come.

    In saying that, one has to have a good grasp of the English Language to be able to understand the concepts communicated given most texts at higher education level are written in English.
    To be able to communicate well in the corporate world today, one needs to have a good grasp of the standard international language used which is the English Language and the Chinese Language which is gaining popularity.

    If the English language is formalised as the main language at school (ie. lessons taught in english and books revert to the use of the English language), this does not make any individual lesser in terms of one’s identity perhaps as an Indian or Chinese nor Malay.
    The caucasians have to study the Chinese Language and learn the Chinese culture in order to engage in business and trade. By having a good command of the Chinese Language here does not make the caucasians any less and do not change their mindset and way of life, their principles neither does it change their mannerism and beliefs.

    One of the hiring managers from the B4s in Australia when interviewed on the reasons why they refrain from hiring accountants from Asia despite experiencing accute labour shortages, responded that they do not have a good command of the English Language.

    Globalisation is knocking on everyone’s door and it is not just talent, experience, or intelligence that is the criteria but good command of the standard language is a must.

  21. #21 by jetaime on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 8:07 pm

    sorry, sentence is rephrased as from either the west or east…..

  22. #22 by katdog on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 9:38 pm

    I think its too late to talk about BM and national language. In today’s globalized world it doesn’t matter anymore. Even China is encouraging its people to learn english.

    I have China colleagues that comment that they understand Americans better than Malaysians because the english spoken by us is actually Manglish – filled with tons of grammatical errors and words or phrases that are locally derived (e.g. play-play, cacat, “i blur lah”).

    I think today, its more important to raise the level of english proficiency. The same also for mandarin.

  23. #23 by katdog on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 9:54 pm

    And yeah, we should move away from talking about whats good for specific racial communities (like that idiot DAP fellar from Perak talking about ‘representation’). We should be moving towards talking about what’s good for all: Malays, Chinese, Indians.

    As a representative of the rakyat, you are supposed to be serving all races. Why you only care about those that same skin color as yourself?

  24. #24 by Godson on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 11:31 pm





  25. #25 by cheng on soo on Wednesday, 2 April 2008 - 11:40 pm

    Someone said “Had English been allowed to be used after the British changeover we would have a Malaysian nation that is modern, forward, progressive”
    Come on, English is important but NOT the sole factor why Msia is what it is today! (rather twisted NEP, ketuanan M, rampant corruption, arrogant incompetent leaders etc.)

  26. #26 by StevenT on Thursday, 3 April 2008 - 3:17 am

    My thoughts are merely simple. English should be learnt and spoken by all Malaysians. Period. Till we do that, there will never be a true multiracial Malaysia. Till we do that, we will never remain competitive in the global market. And till we do that, we will continue to fight along ethic lines.

    P.S. One step towards this goal is to abolish the censorship board.

  27. #27 by sotong on Thursday, 3 April 2008 - 6:23 am

    English is ” bahasa penjajah “….many leaders do not want it to play an important part in national education and unity for various political reasons.

    Thanks to our narrow, short-sighted, irresponsible and selfish leaders, we had lost our education battles….S’pore had it right from the start. Without natural resources but with per capita income of at least 3 times more than us.

  28. #28 by lakilompat on Thursday, 3 April 2008 - 8:41 am

    S’pore majority of the citizen converse in English but they still retained their own languages. There’s effort by the Singaporean to establish Mandarin as their national language “Guo Yie” but as a result many prefer “Singlish” or “Manglish” or “Hokkien” The local Malay, Indian, Chinese, Christian can talk very fluent Singlish.

  29. #29 by Jimm on Thursday, 3 April 2008 - 8:46 am

    Language is UMNO secret weapon to keep all Malaysian from forming national unity.
    Without a strong national unity, UMNO can rule this country forever…..
    So, what the solution we should adopt ???

  30. #30 by lakilompat on Thursday, 3 April 2008 - 9:17 am

    There will be no national unity if one race promote its own national language at the expense of others. We should use “English” as it is universally accepted language. Many rich Malay family did not send their childrens to Malay school but to International School where their syllabus are in english, look at Mohd Khairy (son in law of Pak Lah) was sent to Oxford University.

  31. #31 by sotong on Thursday, 3 April 2008 - 12:21 pm

    Many Malays would like to study English but due to politics, they were discouraged.

    India is now using English to her full advantage. Speaking English does not make them less Indian.

    Look out for this Superpower which is the biggest democracy in the world. Like the Middle East, China is too authocratic to fully develop their human resources.

  32. #32 by lakilompat on Thursday, 3 April 2008 - 12:46 pm

    Malay are very intelligent, if you go to cybercafe and observe the Malay, they are very dedicarted and expert in playing English Online Games. If you observe the World Cybergames, the top counterstrike team normally have a Malay representing them for the competition. The problem is when reporter ask these young lads (Malaysian) in english, they will feel shy and in dismal to talk Bahasa Malaysia or Melayu, becos even when they are young they knew they must reply in English as shows of respect and for many ppl of different race to understand them.

    They are unlike China where the premier can talk in Chinese and there will be interpreter to interpret it in English. This is to show that the country is powerful. It happen to Japan, France, South American countries leader too. If Malaysian leader talk in international arena, can they talk Bahasa Malay or Bahasa Malaysian? Can see how Datuk Rafidah Aziz speak, very fluent English.

  33. #33 by sotong on Thursday, 3 April 2008 - 1:02 pm

    Malays are also artistic, sometimes too artistic…… for too long their real strengths are grossly under capitalised and developed.

  34. #34 by wag-the-dog on Thursday, 3 April 2008 - 2:04 pm

    Combating “Fitna”
    By Ibrahim el Houdaiby

    Last week, Dutch MP Geert Wilders released his movie Fitna, attacking Muslims and the Quran, amidst wide international worries that airing the movie would only lead to further cross-cultural tensions, and perhaps violence. Influential Muslim figures, including some Salafi Saudi scholars, had threatened to boycott the Netherlands while official figures in Iran threatened to review diplomatic relations with the country if the film was aired. Once again, the overall cross-cultural scene seemed less than promising.

    Visit for details.

  35. #35 by lakilompat on Thursday, 3 April 2008 - 2:19 pm

    Khairy is not a malay, he’s Kuwaitian.

  36. #36 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 3 April 2008 - 11:33 pm

    the emotion created by UMNO’s malay nationalism on the bahasa melayu was so great in the 70s, the students in the national school where I was teaching actyally refused to read any English book! We used to have a bahasa teacher who would spent the Monday morning giving his sermon until some of the students who did not had breakfast fainted!!
    Anyway the Monday morning speech was his ‘teaching’ for the whole week! He would find excuses for not going to class ,or if at all, he would be 10 to 15 minutes late. In the staff room, he would continously smoke all by himself at a corner. Of course, he spoke with plenty of gesturing and emotion; but hardly any substance to motivate the students!! Poor guy, I never heard of him; I thought he would some how made it to the upper strata of the UMNO.
    The saddest thing in life is being ignorant of what others know. Those who have confidence in life are those who appreciate the language and culture of other people.
    The moment, a child is being indoctrinated with disrespect for other language and culture,is also the begining of the child’s inability to take on any new challenges in life. In those national schools where I taught, Maths was always a subject the student feared the most. Why? because they were taught by teachers who themselves had phobia for the subject even at the primary level. They pyscho themselves and together with their students to give up even before they got started!! So when the nationalists begun preaching that English was competing with Bahasa, instead of mastering both languages, they opted for one out of self made fear!! And such reasoning is still prevailing today!!
    So unless, the Malays are prepared to open up, to read and reason out the truth of any subject or topic, they will forever be trapped in their own mind-set.

  37. #37 by lakilompat on Friday, 4 April 2008 - 9:32 am

    I would prefer English, there are millionth of great novels and literature you will miss such as Old man and the sea by Ernest Hemmingway, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, 1984 by George Orwell, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and many more. While studying in Grade 12 & 13 in Oakville, Ontario, students are require to perform a presentation & some wrap up on the meaning and how it can co relate to life or to general. In Canada, the library is full of information, you can find archive of old newspaper, and many more interesting fiction & non fiction. All are in English, do you know Canada majority of the Canadian are from various continents from Europe, Asia and South America. I lived with a german family, they spoke German within their family, but their children converse English with me. They are very friendly, the landlord even made a basement kitchen for us to cook & have our supper there. In the basement we also have a Pool/tabletennis table where we can perform some exercise as outside is very cold most of the time (winter). Major cable tv is in english, but every Friday there are chinese news & old chinese movies sometime new chinese movies. In Toronto, metropolitan city, there are china town where we can get our grocery, most of the store are run by vietnamese, we also have italian street, spanish street, indian street, and various race are found within Toronto itself.

    I would like to stress that, we need a common language where everyone can be united and avoid miscommunication.

  38. #38 by lakilompat on Friday, 4 April 2008 - 9:39 am

    My question to Pak Lah, Do you think people who went overseas will think to come back again? for what if the leader is corrupted, there’s not much change happening 50 yrs after independence. Penang state is a good example, look at surrounding of Komtar, where is all the high rise building, and foreigner company tower? Don’t forget Komtar is the first high rise commercial & govt. building built in Malaysia.

  39. #39 by pjboy on Friday, 4 April 2008 - 11:32 am

    No idea why it is such a big issue. If it were to be Bahasa Cina or Bahasa India (Tamil)…how will the situation change? It’s just a bahasa. Bahasa Malaysia = all the languages spoken in Malaysia by ALL Malaysians. Bahasa Melayu = national language or official language. Period. Do you see the British or Americans fighthing over the rights of the English language??? All there is just UK English or US English…we see this in our Windows language settings! So, what’s the problem? Maybe I am naive…but it’s no issue to me. I tell my kids, study Bahasa Melayu as it is the national language or official language. Why make it so complicated just because of “Melayu” is used. To me it’s just an identity sake…like Bahasa Cina, Bahasa Tamil, Bahasa Inggeris (or is it Ingerris? :D). Throw this topic out of the window or into the Straits of Melaka.

  40. #40 by lakilompat on Friday, 4 April 2008 - 11:54 am

    The national language can’t be used overseas, in Japan is OK because the market is huge, in China is OK because the market and population is big, and in a small “potato” country what’s the point of having national language? How do we ensure when our childrens grow up they can communicate well with overseas leaders, counterparts and business partners? “Tak Tau” or “Tak Per” or “Tak Payah” with this word can it transform Malaysia to become top or better than Singapore? Some country can have their own national language because they are self sustainable either thru population or market or economy. Are we qualified to fall into those category to declare ourself self sustain?

  41. #41 by lopez on Saturday, 5 April 2008 - 3:04 pm

    common lah, stop the idelaistic talk come down to mother earth,
    the malay language is a sunset language, it was so since the sri vijayan and majapahit kingdom days, check yourself.
    Those days prevailing langauge is sanskrit, it is indian origin.
    todays malay is a rojak of many languages and was working well until when some idiots and social scientist of malaysian clown wants to have it all for themselves and detached away from other malay.

    Sadly it has prove to be useless in anything of todays needs except kampong talk and pasar talk.

    And it is good it stays there, as you can see the minister’s sons and their cronies are cambridge graduates.
    But dont worry these hypocrites says your son also graduate but kampong graduate.
    Hey dont komplain a graduate is still a graduate says them and arrange big grand convocations event for the parents but of course
    you pay for hotel rooms etc lah.

    Those people in the MOE, the minister, the policy makers, those government servants within are the people which has threaten the national competitive edge.
    These are the people that ought to be punished and imprisoned, literally using their own medicine….marginalise all the capable and deprived them of their future.
    These so called unqualified by their standards have prove time and time again that they are capable and qualified who not only survive but are preferred resource in the english speaking world.

    Stop wasting time and contemplating stories of past glorious days which has lacks credibility , it is just not worth the attention , effort, time, money and thinking time.
    The kampong fellas do not know it , you people who get sent abroad on scholarship please tell your elders unless you also are blur blur when you were there.

  42. #42 by Solution seeker on Saturday, 5 April 2008 - 11:28 pm

    jetaime’s comment is spot on. Malaysians are well known worldwide for being highly multilingual, but sadly it applies only to the non-Malays, and the Malays are being brain-washed by their racist ‘heroes’ that they should learn only BM and may be Arabic (so that they can read the Quran). Worse still, they are debating whether B Malaysia or B Melayu is more appropriate. The general view that Singapore got in right is also very true. That’s why a tiny nation with no natural resources can be the leader of the whole South-East Asia in global competitiveness…the Singaporeans have mastered English and used it to advance themselves, yet keep their cultural identities strong.

    One serious problem in Malaysia is that Malays in general don’t learn other people’s languages. Hence the idea from the author that BM should incorporate other commonly spoken languages in Malaysia remains a dream too distant to realise. Ring wing Malay supremacists would never allow this to happen unfortunately. Moreover, creating a rojak language and called it BM isn’t a pragmatic approach to create prosperity and make us more competitive. It probably would make us more confused about our own identity. Malaysia is simply too small to create its own language unless it tries to think too big with a small brain. Perhaps the Professor KangKung can achieve that.

  43. #43 by Justhis on Tuesday, 8 April 2008 - 3:50 am

    Dear En. Farish,
    In respond to your concern of language unification, being the basis of National Unity (apology if I do misunderstand your point due to poor in mastering English.)

    History proves to us that Countries with single language were yet falling off one after another, mostly conquered by lower civilised countries. No doubt the Language of the greater country being occupied would be used and carried on to develop further by conqueror. Then the same cycle repeats with another conqueror surfaces. This symptom indicates that language itself is just a communication tool (base on development of country alone) to get mutual understanding, supporting daily activities, to build trust and later on to gain control. Even to the extent of literate appreciation has to be taught and introduced in order to gain common recognitions. From then on it stages its commercial values bilaterally. Language does not unite a country so well.

    Looking from reverse cycle; if you allow me to explain my humble opinion; it is easier to learn that disunity of a country mainly due to losing mutual trust has no direct effect of the use of language. So, analysing the root causes how disunity is formed will be easier than to find ways, tools or methods of unification. Because unity might take 50 years to build up but will just take 1 day to set riot and ruin it all. From then on it becomes like cracking jar, more filling (efforts of political reunification) into this jar is exerting more pressure to it. Because the thoughts of unification are politically base on pacifying major voters, major riotous group so that situation can be better of temporary. But the cracks remain unmeant; politically unworthy for any actions. Malaysia is fortunate to have minorities who strongly disbelief in suicide bombing can solve issues. But instead positively looking forward to the majority side that will one day satisfied and allow healing to begin.

    Language unification in a developing country today is to serve basic requirements, and the most fundamental one is to communicate. Literature appreciation will not be any higher value than if any language at all capable of bringing out the true meaning of life (otherwise it is just like music). Even so, the meaning of life must be introduced for acceptance, promoted for realisation before anybody else will share the same thought, same vision, and same goal. (What a long cycle zzzzzzzzz then next riot comes.)

    Malaysia is in a stage of too many people wanted to unify the country but too few with too weak of effort to find out what has caused disunity. More people like to change methods, tools, …. in order to unify Malaysia. But too few people are with patients and boldness to fight off disunity factors.

    Majority rely on a quick fix from Islam as the source to bring 100% unity to Malaysia. Without staging myself onto political platform, I do not deprive Muslims this possibility. But have we not see enough globally that Islam has failed to prevent disunity? I do not like to pin point those Islamic countries with bloodshed disunities as a form of respect. But we simply cannot push all responsibilities to other means, i.e. super power causes it alone. Blamelah saitan, lebih senang, sure menang, tak kena lawan. Mesti BOLEH.

    Hence, En Farish, my personal point of view is just that either Bahasa Malaysia or Malayu has not much feeling to unity. If history also can edit or delete, cut and paste then be it apakah bahasa siapa pun tak apalah. Important is how long more the generation with good will and less political minded will rise in Malaysia to identify and fight off disunity factors, which is far more detrimental.

    Warm regards,

  44. #44 by lakilompat on Tuesday, 22 April 2008 - 10:47 am

    “But have we not see enough globally that Islam has failed to prevent disunity?”

    Greed kill religions.

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