Former senior civil servant Ramon Navaratnam says it is wrong for anyone to want to intimidate a child or threaten to deny their rights to citizenship over proficiency in Malay.
KUALA LUMPUR: A former top civil servant has slammed a proposal by an academic that MyKads be issued only to children who can speak Malay.
Last Sunday, Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Professor Zainal Kling was reported to have said that Malaysian children be required to learn the Malay language before they are given the blue identity cards for citizenship.
However former transport ministry secretary-general Ramon Navaratnam told FMT that it wasn’t right to intimidate a child by threatening to deny them their rights.
“Issuing such threats is not the way to encourage people to become more proficient in the Malay language,” he said, adding that it was already mandatory to learn and pass the Bahasa Malaysia subject in the SPM examination.
“It may be the mother tongue for the Malays but not for the other races, so what is important is that they have the basics,” Ramon said on the sidelines of the launch of his latest book titled Malaysia’s Transformation Challenges: Debating Public Policies.
Ramon, who is currently the chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Studies at the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (Asli), also warned that such a policy would only divide Malaysia’s multiracial society further.
“Proficiency in a language should not be used as a benchmark for citizenship. While learning the national language is important, we must also ensure children understand the values they should have to be a good Malaysian citizen.”
This, he said, would give more meaning to a citizenship.
Earlier today, Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) co-president Gan Ping Sieu also questioned the proposal saying there is no reason why those who did not meet language competency standards should be treated as second-class citizens.