The focus on “dignifying” Bahasa Malaysia is a backward move that does not help Malaysians to progress in the modern world, said former Cabinet minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.
The veteran politician criticised the government’s decision to emphasise the empowerment of the Malay language, which includes compelling foreign students to learn Bahasa Malaysia.
“Let’s not misplace our nationalism. Mastery of a language is not the most important thing, but rather what you express and communicate.
“Even if you are so good in Malay and are good at speeches or poetry, but the contents of what you deliver is nothing, what is the point?
“The quality of what you say and do is more important, not the language.
“English is the recognised international language, so why are we reversing and going backwards by emphasising Malay instead? I do not understand this,” said Rafidah at a press conference here.
She was speaking after presiding over the graduation ceremony of Meritus University, of which she is chancellor.
The former International Trade and Industry minister said Malaysians only stand to lose out if there is no focus on mastering English.
“In the current political climate, leaders are clamouring for Bahasa Malaysia to be empowered and making it compulsory for foreign students to learn the language.
“We should not be doing this now, we are only going to be at a loss.
“Look at the aviation and maritime industries. The main language is English.
“I am the Safety Review Board chairman of AirAsia X, and I have come across cases of communication problems between control tower and pilots.
“All because the person at the control tower had poor command of English.
“So you see why the quality of communication is more important. And when the international language in many industries is in English, you have to master it,” said Rafidah.
In a move to empower the Malay language, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that Bahasa Malaysia will be used at official government functions abroad only when English is not the host country’s national language.
He also said that he will propose to Asean leaders on the use of Bahasa Malaysia as Asean’s second language.
The government will also make it compulsory for foreign students to learn Bahasa Malaysia.
Source : The Star