PETALING JAYA: Johor Umno chief Mohamed Khaled Nordin today demanded an apology from Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng for issuing an official ministry statement in Mandarin instead of Bahasa Melayu.
He said Lim must apologise “openly and immediately” to all Malaysians who uphold and respect the status of Bahasa Melayu as the country’s official language.
“And, as a reminder, the apology statement must be in Bahasa Melayu,” he said in a statement.
Lim, the DAP secretary-general, had invoked the Federal Constitution in defending his use of Mandarin in his ministry’s official statement.
In a statement issued in Mandarin, he said using the language was a reflection of the current government’s recognition of multilingualism and globalisation.
“Under the Federal Constitution, no one is prevented from speaking, teaching, or learning other languages. In the spirit of the constitution, what is wrong with issuing a translated press release in Chinese or other languages?” he asked.
Adding that his critics were making “racist accusations”, Lim said he would not bow to them.
Khaled said he felt offended by Lim’s action.
He said the action was rude, and had humiliated and degraded the status of Bahasa Melayu as the foundation of not only the Federal Constitution but also the practice and management of the Malaysian government.
“This is because the statement issued in Mandarin was an official statement involving the administration of the country and public interest, and not something personal.”
He said Lim’s action could incite anger and uneasiness, and could also be seen as arrogance and recklessness on his part in carrying out official government duties.
“Worst of all, he had previously, when defending his appointment as finance minister, declared ‘I am not a Chinese, I am Malaysian’.
“If the declaration was not a political gimmick just for show and truly reflected his patriotism, why isn’t it practised with consistency and sincerity?
“Instead, after being lifted to his post and carrying out official duties, he so easily forgets his (previous) stand and claim.”
Khaled said the change in government had occurred less than 100 days ago, but already the national language had been shown to be valueless as it could be ignored by a high-ranking government officer.
“This is a tragedy to Bahasa Melayu,” he said, adding that the government should be more sensitive and careful in this matter.