KUCHING: Mastering of Bahasa Malaysia must be made a priority to further promote the national language as an effective communication tool and advance knowledge lingua franca.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said while it was important for the people to be multilingual and to have a strong grasps of the English language, the global community would look to learn Bahasa Malaysia once the country became a global economic power and fully developed.
Abang Johari, who is also Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, said the value of a language was closely linked to the economic strength and progress of a nation.
Countries with rapid economic growth would also experience growth in the learning and usage of its native language, he said.
“The effects can be seen today, where many global communites are starting to learn Mandarin after China emerged as a powerful economic nation.
“The same goes for the Japanese language, French and German. People are learning these languages as they expand economic ties with these countries.
“In this regards if we strive to transform Malaysia into a developed nation by 2020, mastering of the national language must be strengthened and given the same commercial and economic value in line with the country’s progress,” he said when launching the state-level National Language Month 2016 at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) headquarters here. DBP director-general Abdul Adzis Abas was also present at the event.
Abang Johari believed that the national language must be widely used in all fields, at both the private and public sectors to replicate the practice of developed countries that prioritise their respective lingua franca.
He advised Sarawakians to master their native tongue while prioritising Bahasa Malaysia as the national language.
“When Sarawak becomes a fully developed and on par with other states in the country, the people throughout the nation will also have interest in learning our language, especially for trade and business purposes,” he said.
At the event, Abang Johari launched the Sarawak Malay-Bahasa Melayu Dictionary, which features about 11,600 word entries and 9,800 sub-entries.
The Deputy Chief Minister also presented Bahasa Malaysia magazines and other reading materials to 12 schools in the Petra Jaya here, courtesy of DBP, to enhance the learning experience of the national language.