Chinese groups disagree over translation of ‘Premier’ for Sarawak

0

SFCA president Datuk Richard Wee has revealed that the federation has sent a letter to State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion hoping that the state government would make a decision on the matter.

KUCHING (March 4): A disagreement has broken out between Chinese groups over the proper translation for the word ‘Premier’ which replaces the title of ‘chief minister’ of Sarawak starting from this month.

The Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations (SFCA) is adamant that 总理 (Zong Li) is a more appropriate translation for the word but the Chinese Language Standardisation Council of Malaysia has insisted on 总督 (Zong Du).

SFCA says ‘Zong Du’ could bring about confusion as the term had elements of colonialism, while the council claims that ‘Zong Li’ could be taken to mean that the state is ‘a country within a country’.

The council said in a statement on Tuesday that ‘Premier’ should be translated as ‘Zong Du’ to respect the constitutional monarchy in Malaysia, adding that the term ‘Zong Li’  was used for the top leader of some nations.

SFCA president Datuk Richard Wee has revealed that the federation has sent a letter to State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion hoping that the state government would make a decision on the matter.

Jaul could not be reached for comments today but it is learnt the state is setting up a committee with local Chinese leaders to resolve the issue.

SFCA is also writing a letter to Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, who is in-charge of Chinese school affairs in Sarawak, on the matter.

On Wednesday, SFCA had said it did not agree with ‘Premier’ being translated as ‘Zong Du’ as it is literally translated as ‘governor’ in Chinese and could bring about confusion and reflect elements of colonialism.

It explained that in Canada and Australia, top leaders at the federal level are termed ‘Prime Minister’ while top leaders at the respective regions or states are ‘Premier’.

“Given this concept, ‘Zong Li’ refers to a top leader of a region while ‘Zong Du’ refers to a leader of a colonial state. The former comes with a relatively higher political status than the latter.

“The term ‘Zong Li’ is to reflect ‘a region within a country’ which is in line with the spirit of Malaysia Agreement 1963,” SFCA added.

Yesterday, the State Public Information Unit (Ukas) released a table infographic detailing the new official titles to be used in Sarawak effective this month.

The infographic did not carry any Chinese translation for Premier of Sarawak.

The change of title from chief minister to Premier took effect on March 1, after the Constitution of the State of Sarawak (Amendment) Ordinance 2022 was gazetted.

The Bill that sought the constitutional amendment was passed on Feb 15 by the State Legislative Assembly (DUN)

When tabling the Bill in the august house, Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the recent amendment to the Federal Constitution restored the original spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) when Sarawak agreed to participate in the formation of Malaysia, where its status as one of the three provinces (Federation of Malaya, Sabah, and Sarawak) should be maintained.

He said this meant Sarawak’s status is different from other states in the Federation of Malaya.