PETALING JAYA: A Warisan MP has called for Sabah and its civil service to be left out of the chief secretary to the government’s proposal for punitive measures to “enforce” the use of Malay in the civil service.
Darell Leiking, a former international trade and industry (Miti) minister, said the government should not ignore the achievements and progress Malaysia had made through the use of English.
Leiking agreed with the view of Rafidah Aziz, another former trade minister, that Malaysian civil servants were admired by world leaders, especially for the way Miti officers led trade negotiations and discussions.
“The English and Malay languages can co-exist but let us show the world that we can break all barriers by being able to converse in English, which is a common language.
“If these few top decision-makers of the federal civil service decide to go ahead and punish those who do not use Malay, then all I can say is good luck to them.
“But leave Sabah and its civil service out of this strange and regressive policy,” the Penampang MP told FMT.
He said civil servants’ competence in English would enhance foreign investor confidence in doing business in Malaysia.
He also maintained that the government should not punish the civil service and other government-linked agencies for communicating in English.
Chief Secretary to the Government Zuki Ali was reported to have called on the public service department (JPA) to consider punitive measures to enforce the use of Malay in the civil service and government-linked companies.
He said this was in line with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s announcement that Malay would be used not only within the country but also internationally.
Earlier, Rafidah slammed Zuki for suggesting such a regressive policy, saying civil servants should instead be raising their proficiency in English and other relevant languages.
She warned that Malaysia risked becoming the “bureaucratic pariahs” of Asean if this “inward-looking mindset” persisted and the use of English by civil servants was penalised.
The G25 group of former top civil servants had also criticised Zuki yesterday, stressing the need to recognise the importance of the English language to Malaysia.