Bahasa Melayu can be turned into a global winner
Saad Hashim | Dec 26, 08 10:38am
I reckon Christmas time is a good time to nail it into the heads of those Malaysians who are either ambivalent or outright opposed to Bahasa Melayu becoming the language of knowledge, the language of commerce and the medium to bring about some semblance of Bangsa Malaysia.
This may look like a very unlikely analogy, but you see, Santa Claus and his reindeers do not even exist. Itís a complete myth from the pagan era and yet just look at what had happened since Santa and his stocking came into the lives of every child of the world.
At Tesco Ampang (presumably at all mega-stores) I saw many Muslim children flock around to the Santa at the entrance (a huge Indian guy inside) to get their balloons. This is also the time all Muslim workers at fast food joints and American coffee shops are made to wear the Santa hats.
I am sure many of you will notice that the way Christmas and New Year are celebrated in Malaysia, it looks as if Christianity is the biggest religion in Malaysia. I am sure the commercial turnover at Christmas is second only to the Chinese New Year.
What I am trying to say is that if given the added value, anything in this world can be turned into a global winner. That is what happened to Santa Claus and the English language. Narrow minded or perhaps anti-Bahasa Malaysians may think that English is the only language of science and technology but this is not true at all because scientists and mathematicians in China, Korea, Japan, Italy, Indonesia etc do not talk to each other about science in English but in their own languages.
On the other hand, all the former British and French colonies in Africa, have long adopted English and French as their lingua franca (to the detriment of their mother tongues), yet it got them no where.
What it means is that at the international stage, scientists will perhaps discuss in English but the ordinary people in any country who are mainly concerned with their daily humdrum lives should not create suspicion and embarrassment speaking in different languages (like we do now).
Thus why canít Bahasa Malaysia be given the added value as the language of the leisure industry, the manufacturing sector and the socio-economic sector including and and mathematics? Those who are ardent supporters of English as Malaysiaís lingua franca are either very colonial in their thinking, or because English has given them a very comfortable life and they do not know any other way.
If they say Bahasa Melayu is ill-equipped to become Malaysiaís national language or as the language of science and commerce, they are obviously unaware that in the early days of the US, English, too, was a minority language and German was almost adopted as the language of the new country like Quebec choosing French or Louisiana opting for the French judicial system.
As we say good-bye to 2008 which had brought some changes in our political and democratic landscapes, the education system has apparently entered an era of organised chaos, thanks to Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had dictatorially ordered the switch to English for the teaching of Science and Mathematics which then wreaked havoc on the communication landscape of Malaysians.
While the problem remains unresolved, Santa Claus in all our mega-stores howling: Ho! Ho! Ho!