“I am sure that the newspaper had its reasons but it’s still sad nevertheless,” said its chief executive officer Rita Lasimbang, adding that having a designated Kadazan page gave prestige to the language.
“Kadazan lessons and the introduction of the standard Kadazan spelling system was published in the Daily Express’s Kadazan page years back,” she said.
Language, she pointed out, was both a cultural identity and an identity marker.
“From our programmes, we found that the youth are keen to learn their mother tongue while there are also others of different races who are interested to know more about our language,” she added.
Lasimbang was commenting on the decision by the Daily Express to end its Kadazan language insert, which became known, among others, for its “sisindion” (poetry) section and caricatures.
Daily Express, which started in 1963, is one of Sabah’s main English dailies.
At present, the only newspaper that still carries a Kadazan page is the New Sabah Times. Previously, publications like The Borneo Post and the now-defunct Borneo Mail had Kadazan pages too.
There are over 30 ethnic languages in Sabah. Kadazandusun is among the major ones.
The foundation promotes the Kadazan language through foundation programmes, talks and school programmes.
Lasimbang said ultimately, outsiders, such as NGOs, could only do so much in keeping the language alive as it all came down to parents and their own communities to teach the language.
“Parents must be willing to speak and teach the language to their children while the community plays another part in strengthening and igniting interest towards the language,” she said.
She said before the emergence of technology, the print media, such as the Kadazandusun pages in the Daily Express, had played an important role in conveying information to the community.
Lasimbang suggested that online platforms be created for the language if the print format could no longer be sustained.
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