Sarawakians back Adenan on English, others can shut up!

by Zainal Yunos

LETTER: This “Letter to the Editor” section is aimed at providing an opportunity for readers to air their opinions on current issues and other subjects of interest. Send your letters Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

FULL BACKING FOR ADENAN: I’m actually very amused to read news reports of groups in Malaya chastising Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem for declaring that English will be used, alongside Bahasa Malaysia, as the official language in Sarawak.

They seemed to miss one important point – English will only be one of the official languages. Bahasa Malaysia still remains, as Adenan has made very clear.

So what these Malayan groups are demanding is that there must be one official language, Bahasa Malaysia. English can never be allowed to be an official language in any state in the Malaysian Federation.

How narrow-minded and how selfish is that!

According to news reports, Malay-based groups in Kuala Lumpur have protested against Sarawak’s adoption of English as an official language, alongside Bahasa Malaysia.

The Malay Economic Action Council and the Kuala Lumpur Malay Chamber of Commerce questioned the Sarawak government’s reasoning, while the Malay-rights group Perkasa said the Sarawak decision was an insult to the Federal Constitution.

The council’s chief executive, Mohd Nizam Mahshar, said the use of language different from their day-to-day conversation would turn away those in the lower middle-income and lower-income groups.

He suggested that the state first carry out a study on language usage.

I’m afraid I don’t understand what Mohd Nizam is talking about. Does he mean to say that when one is so used to conversing in Bahasa, others will run away when one starts talking to them in English. What kind of an argument is that?

Incidentally, Mohd Nizam also mentioned that the lower middle-income and lower-income groups would be turned away. Why? Affluent Malaysians do not speak Bahasa?

Mohd Nizam MahsharMohd Nizam Mahshar

Why stigmatise the lower-income groups as the ones who only speak Bahasa? And for heaven’s sake, why not get them to learn English so that they can get out of the lower classes of society? Has Mohd Nizam ever thought of that?

Then, KL chamber’s honorary secretary Aslah Abdullah questioned the need for change.

“There has never been any language barrier. Why try to change? Everyone already speaks Bahasa Malaysia, from city folk to people in the kampung (villages),” he was quoted as saying. “Iban and Kadazan people also speak Bahasa Malaysia as well. This decision will only push more people away.”

Such a statement only proves how little Malayans like Aslah Abdullah know about Sarawak and Sarawakians. I dare say that no Sarawakian is ever pushed away because of any language barrier.

Take for example, in Kuching, the old Chinese Ah Pek will attempt to speak bazaar Malay to a Malay friend while his Indian friend can even converse in fluent Hokkien with him.

In the busy Medan Selera near the Satok Bridge, the Malay selling ikan bakar will gladly converse in Iban with anyone he meets, Dayaks, Chinese or even his own Malay kin.

So what decision will only push more people away? Aslah Abdullah, please understand this uniqueness of Sarawak and its people. Do not be condescending in your ways when talking about Sarawak.

Yes, there is a need for change – beginning with the KL Chamber’s narrow perception about the Borneo states.

Then, we hear of Perkasa Youth leader Irwan Fahmi Ideris saying that  Adenan was insulting the country’s Constitution by placing English on par with Bahasa Malaysia.

Whoever this Perkasa fella is, I think he is not only insulting the intelligence of the chief minister but of all Sarawakians. The problem is probably because he does not understand English and hence, does not know the meaning of “insult”, nor is he able to fully comprehend the Federal Constitution.

In any case, what is Perkasa anyway? Perkasa what? Is that the name of the bird which we used to shoot with our homemade catapults in the jungle clearing behind our homes when we were little kids?

My final message to outsiders is this. Our chief minister knows what he is doing. Adenan is a qualified lawyer and a veteran political leader.

On this English issue, the chief minister has the support of all Sarawakians.

Others please shut up.

To Adenan’s detractors, please try talking in Bahasa Malaysia to President Obama or to President Xi Jinping or President Putin. Bahasa just does not work on the world stage. Please drum that into your head!

If you are unhappy for whatever reason, do not drag your miseries over to us in Sarawak. Just stay out of Sarawak affairs. You have a lot of problems to resolve in Malaya. Just go and clean up your own backyard. – The Ant Daily

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