PETALING JAYA: Malaysians who prefer English over Bahasa Malaysia are trapped in a colonial mindset, says PAS President Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang.
"Ignore the incoherent voices that are delirious, because these are either people who are still sleeping in the shadow of the colonial era, or those who are crazy in wanting to force the abandonment of Bahasa Malaysia," said the Marang MP in a statement on Sunday (July 3).
Abdul Hadi also criticized Malaysians who constantly belittle the Bahasa Malaysia language.
"Their souls are still trapped with the former colonists who previously enslaved them," added Abdul Hadi.
Abdul Hadi also claimed that there were Malaysians who prioritize the usage of English in official events.
"Advertisements in shops and the market as well as the names of cities and roads are named in English even though a majority of its target audience do not know English," said Abdul Hadi.
"At the same time, they do not care about whether their audiences consist of Malaysians who do not know English," he added.
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On May 24, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali was quoted saying that he hoped the Public Service Department (JPA) would consider action against those who did not take instructions relating to the use of Bahasa Malaysia in the civil service seriously.
On June 21, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) board of governors chairman Datuk Seri Awang Sariyan proposed that those who do not respect the national language be fined up to RM50,000 or sentenced through imprisonment through several legal amendments.
Awang said the proposed punishment would need an amendment of the DBP Act 1959 and added that the amendment is currently in the final stages of discussions before it is presented to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob next month.
Among those criticizing the proposed penalties were former international trade and industry minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.
She had said that other Asean countries may not respond well if Malaysian civil servants were forced to use Bahasa Malaysia when corresponding with the international community.
"If this mindset of being inward-looking persists, with even penalties imposed for not communicating with the rest of the world in Bahasa Malaysia, then we will be the bureaucratic pariahs in Asean," she said in a statement last month.
Whereas the G25 group of eminent Malays said punitive measures to enforce Bahasa Malaysia in the civil service and other government-related agencies will cause Malaysia to lose out.
"While G25 supports the importance of Bahasa Malaysia in creating a united nation between the various races that form the country, there must also be recognition of the importance of English as the universal language of the international community in many aspects of daily life," it said in a statement in May.
Ismail Sabri said the move was to strengthen Bahasa Malaysia and there was no reason for any Malaysians not to be able to speak the national language.