PETALING JAYA: Vocal lawyer Azhar Harun has become the latest to join the chorus of criticism against Lim Guan Eng, after the finance minister defended his action of issuing official ministerial statements in Mandarin.
Azhar, popularly known by his pen name Art Harun, said Lim’s argument that he had the constitutional right to use languages other than Malay and English reeked of arrogance.
“Quite to the contrary, dear minister,” he wrote on his Facebook. “Under the Federal Constitution, the official language is Bahasa Malaysia.”
He also questioned Lim for using Mandarin instead of Malay as the national language when discharging official duties.
“Don’t be arrogant and dismissive of this. You are really pushing it. There is a limit to the ‘new Malaysia’,” he said.
Lim was accused of undermining the national language after he issued several ministerial statements written only in Mandarin.
But the DAP secretary-general dismissed his critics and vowed to continue using Mandarin besides Malay and English, saying it was a reflection of the government’s recognition of multilingualism and globalisation.
“The new Malaysia is an inclusive, respectful and diverse country. While safeguarding the status of Malay as an official language, we also need to master the use of other languages in order to increase our competitiveness,” he said.
His statement received praise as well as flak on Facebook, including from retail tycoon Ameer Ali Mydin, who owns the Mydin hypermarket chain.
Lim was also criticised by PPBM Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who said Section 2 of the National Language Act stated that the national language should be used as the official language.
“This means it has been agreed that Bahasa Malaysia should be used for official government business including official statements in the government’s capacity.
“It is also consistent with Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution which states that Bahasa Melayu is the national language,” he said.
In a statement, Syed Saddiq said it was important to coordinate the use of Malay in all official government business to prevent public confusion over the government’s communications.
He added that official statements could be translated into English and any other language if necessary, but that priority should be given to the use of Malay in initial statements.
Azhar, meanwhile, said his criticism of Lim should not be construed as racial.
“I am not racist. And I am not talking about Malay rights or the proverbial ‘mertabatkan Bahasa Melayu’ and stuff.
“But please do your job as a minister as you should be (doing). After all, you were the one who so proudly proclaimed ‘I am not Chinese, I am Malaysian’. You are showing the wrong signal. The wrong attitude.
“What Malaysian OFFICIAL will issue statements in Mandarin when the official language is Bahasa Malaysia (you see, I am not even calling it Bahasa Melayu),” he added.
“Please lah. Don’t be stupid!”