Muhyiddin viewing an item on display during a visit to the Uzbekistan State University of World Languages in Tashkent. On the right is Prof Shukhrat. — Bernama
TASHKENT: The Malay language took centre stage at Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s first official engagement of his trip to Uzbekistan that saw him speaking partly in Malay to the delight of students learning the language spoken by over 300 million people globally.
The Malaysian deputy prime minister’s visit to the Uzbekistan State University of World Languages (USUWL) here yesterday was also marked by an astounding cultural performance featuring a mixture of Uzbekistan and Malaysian traditional dances and pantun (poetry) recital and songs performed by the university students.
Speaking at the event in both English and Malay, Muhyiddin said he was pleasantly surprised to hear that the language was one of the 20 foreign languages being taught at USUWL.
“We’re very proud that Malay has been taught at the university for almost 20 years now and that currently 40 students are learning the language at this institution,” he said.
During the visit, Muhyiddin, who is also Malaysia’s education minister, presented books to further expand the teaching of Malay as part of the efforts to promote the language abroad.
Muhyiddin arrived in the Uzbek capital on Sunday night for a four-day official visit aimed at boosting ties and co-operation with the Central Asian republic of some 30 million people.
At the function yesterday, he said the Malaysian Government was supportive of all initiatives towards making Malay a world language for knowledge and communication.
The Malay language course at the university is being led by Erkin Bekkulov. In this regard, Muhyiddin encouraged USUWL lecturers to attend short or long-term Malay language courses in Malaysia.
Also present at the function were his wife Puan Sri Norainee Abdul Rahman, USUWL rector Prof Shukhrat Kayumov and Malaysian ambassador to Uzbekistan Abdul Aziz Harun.
Pointing out that Malay was the national and official language of Malaysia, Muhyiddin said the speakers of the language now numbered more than 300 million people, with 129 institutions of higher learning offering Bahasa Melayu courses.