KUCHING: It is shallow-minded and insular of PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang to equate those advocating English proficiency as having a colonial mindset, says Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
The Sarawak Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister said knowing as many languages as possible was important for better communication with the rest of the world.
He said this would also enable Muslims to acquire as much knowledge as possible, as advocated by Islam.
"Arabic is not the language of our region. Does learning Arabic mean we have a colonial mindset? No. Similarly, being good in English doesn't mean someone has a colonial mindset," he said on Monday (July 4).
Abdul Karim said it was unfortunate for PAS to have a leader with a shallow mindset.
"Don't be a frog under a coconut shell," he added, referring to the Malay proverb for someone who is insular and ignorant.
Abdul Karim said the PAS leader's comments about English were not surprising, as he had formerly made disparaging remarks about Sarawak's Dayak community.
In 2009, Abdul Hadi blamed the then-Pakatan Rakyat's defeat in the Batang Ai by-election on "cawat" (loincloth)-wearing Sarawakians who "did not know how to vote".
Abdul Hadi said in a statement on Sunday (July 3) that Malaysians who preferred English over Bahasa Malaysia were trapped in a colonial mindset.
He also criticised Malaysians who belittled Bahasa Malaysia, saying they were "trapped by the former colonists who previously enslaved them".