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Bahasa Malaysia restored as national language – most welcome but why the sheepish, surreptitious and selective manner of announcing the Cabinet decision after two months?  


Media Statement (2)     
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Monday) : The restoration of Bahasa Malaysia as the official reference to the national language is most welcome. 

DAP had been very critical of the move in the eighties when Bahasa Malaysia was dropped and replaced by Bahasa Melayu, as it was a step backwards for Malaysian nation-building. 

The Cabinet decision in April to restore the term Bahasa Malaysia for the national language has proven the DAP right in taking a far-sighted nationalist position in the past two decades that the term Bahasa Malaysia should continue to be used to signify that the national language had been elevated to a language for the nation and all races which make up the nation – and that it was Umno, MCA, Gerakan, MIC and all the other Barisan Nasional component parties which had been wrong in taking a retrogressive step. 

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was the Education Minister in 1986 when initiating the change, had been blamed for dropping the term Bahasa Malaysia in favour of Bahasa Melayu.   

The question is why the other Ministers and leaders in Barisan Nasional, whether Umno, MCA, Gerakan, MIC and other component parties from Sabah and Sarawak went along with the change and did nothing to restore the term for the past 10 years when Anwar was no more in the Barisan Nasional. 

In this connection, an explanation is warranted from the Information Minister, Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin for the sheepish, surreptitious and selective manner in announcing the April Cabinet decision after two months. 

Today, only the Star and Sin Chew Daily were the only English and Chinese language newspapers to report this April decision of the Cabinet to restore the term Bahasa Malaysia as the official term for the national language. There was not a single Bahasa Malaysia medium which reported this important Cabinet decision. 

If this is regarded by the Ministers as an important Cabinet decision in the nation-building process to foster national unity and integration, why was the subject treated as if it is an “unmentionable” subject for two months, and when it was made public, done in a most selective manner when it should be properly announced to all language media, whether printed or electronic? 

The sheepish, surreptitious and selective manner the Cabinet decision of April had been handled has detracted from its value and meaning as an important step to promote national integration by emphasizing that the national language has transcended its racial origin to become a national language of all Malaysians regardless of race or religion.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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