Tuesday, March 19

RM1,000-fine for incorrect usage of BM absurd — PBDSB

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PBDSB (File Photo)

KUCHING: Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) finds it absurd to impose a RM1,000-fine on people using incorrect Bahasa Malaysia, including online advertisements.

Sarawakians, in particular, would not agree to the fine of up to RM1,000 to be enforced by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), once amendments to the National Language Act 1963 and Education Act 1996, have been passed in Parliament, said PBDSB president Cobbold John Lusoi yesterday, in response to a report in an online news portal.

The report said the suggestion would be discussed by a special cabinet committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and should there be an agreement, the Education Ministry will table the amendments to enable DBP to enforce the fine.

It quoted DBP director-general Abdul Adzis Abas as saying that the government had suggested empowering DBP to take action against improper usage of Bahasa Malaysia.

Cobbold added that Professor Datuk Zainal Kling from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) had earlier this year  proposed that Malaysian children must learn Bahasa  Malaysia before being given blue identity cards.

“Now, the issue is back again to stir up sentiments. Even Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz had even said that English is a threat to ethnic culture and the national language, and that English language advancement should be stopped.

“Nazri even went to the extent of defending DBP as a national body safeguarding the national language, saying that they could do whatever they want as long as it is not against the law.

“Obviously, for Sarawak, such acts of ignorance go against the 18 points stipulated under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63). How is it that Nazri dare to come up with the statement that the DBP suggestion is not against the law?”

Cobbold said that Bahasa Malaysia has always been a mandatory subject in all schools including Chinese and Indian vernacular schools in the country.

“Learning English and Bahasa Malaysia can go concurrently without one becoming an obstacle to the other. English is the world lingua franca and also the language of international business, which should not be ignored or neglected.

“Many Sarawakians today are well educated and  knowledgeable about MA63 and the righful position of Sarawak in Malaysia.

“If such fine is to be enforced, it is truly ridiculous and does not show the spirit or even ethics of a democratic ‘secular state’

nation at all,” he said, while urging all federal ministers from Sarawak to take heed of the issue.