GEORGE TOWN: The Higher Education Ministry always takes serious measures to continue to make the Malay language or Bahasa Melayu an important part of the country’s higher education agenda as it deserves to be a catalyst that triggers and drives the restoration of a good system in society.
Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said one of them was the launch of the Action Plan for the Empowerment of Bahasa Melayu as the Language of Knowledge in institutions of higher learning (IPTs).
"Under the action plan, the ministry agrees with the proposal that general university subjects that are compulsory for international students be replaced with a Malay Communication Course according to the suitability and study programme at a university.
"In addition, the ministry's efforts also cover the recognition of language figures, the establishment of Bahasa Melayu chairs and close cooperation with various institutions that offer Malay language-related studies around the world.
"We strive for all of this because we believe that the Malay language has its own strengths and we want more people to study the Malay language as an important and potential field," he said when officiating the 15th International Malay Language Final Speech Competition (PABM) 2023 at Dewan Tuanku Syed Putra, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) here Saturday (Nov 4) night.
Mohamed Khaled said that in elevating the position of the Malay language and the prestige of the field of study, the ministry also has a number of targets, among which is to make Bahasa Melayu one of the attractions in the success of knowledge diplomacy.
He said this means that, in building and strengthening international relations based on knowledge and science, the Malay language must be part of the highlighted disciplines.
"The Malay language must become a universal language in highlighting a good value system, especially in translating the national agenda that cuts across races and nationalities.
"Madani Malaysia, for example, is a national ethos that is based on a good value system that should be the basis and image of a cultured nation with full commitment and pride," he said.
He added the ministry also welcomed the insistence of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who wants all written business and official government correspondence to be done in Bahasa Melayu.
"We want to emphasise clearly that language is not only the soul of the nation, but it is the essence and identity of a country, and holds a special position. It does not just take up space in the Constitution, without being put into practice in all areas and disciplines," he said.
The PABM, introduced in 2007, involves three categories, namely the Malay Nature category with participants from Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and Thailand; the International category contested by countries other than in the Malay Nature category; and the International Student category open to university students in Malaysia other than the countries for the Malay Nature category.
The preliminary rounds and quarter-finals were held online in September and the top three from each category then took part in tonight's face-to-face final rounds at USM.
A total of seven countries were involved in the final rounds, namely Malaysia, Brunei, Uzbekistan, China, Bangladesh, Sudan and Timor Leste.
The winner of each category received RM10,000 cash, a challenge trophy and a trophy while the runner-up received RM8,000 each. Those who finished third took home RM5,000 each. - Bernama