Salleh Said Keruak says this is important to ensure the smooth implementation of the official language policy for the common good.
PETALING JAYA: Any policy requiring the use of Malay in official correspondence should “ideally” be coordinated with the Sabah and Sarawak governments, according to former Sabah chief minister Salleh Said Keruak.
Salleh said such coordination was important to ensure the smooth implementation of a policy for the common good.
“There is no denying that Malay is the national language in Malaysia and we welcome this policy, but the importance of mastering English cannot be disputed,” he said at the 2023 SMK Pekan student awards ceremony in Kota Belud today.
“This is because English, as a global language, is widely used and needs to be mastered, especially by civil servants dealing with foreign countries and students who will explore the field of knowledge in the field of education, and then apply it in the world of work.”
Yesterday, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim reminded local companies and universities to correspond with government agencies in Malay, noting that there had been a “deviation” from the constitutional commitment to uphold Malay as the national language.
Anwar also said that anyone who wrote in a language other than the national language “will have their letter returned”.
In response, Sarawak state secretary Abu Bakar Marzuki said the state has no intention to comply with the prime minister’s directive and will continue to accept official correspondence written in English from local companies or public and private institutions.
This is not the first time that Sarawak has held opposing views with the federal government when it comes to language-related policies.
In June last year, Sarawak premier Abang Johari Openg said the state civil service would continue to use English as the official language alongside the national language, Malay.
His comments were in response to chief secretary to the government Zuki Ali’s May 24 statement where he had wanted the public services department (JPA) to look into action that could be taken against those who did not take instructions to strengthen the national language seriously.