Archive for the ‘Bahasa Melayu’ Category

Opening the windows of our mind

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

THE pre-eminence and official position of the Malay language is deeply entrenched in our Constitution. Article 152(1) prescribes that the national language shall be the Malay language and shall be used for all official purposes.

Official purpose is defined in Article 152(6) as any purpose of the federal or state governments or a public authority.

The official position of the Malay language is further reiterated in the National Language Act 1963/67, the Education Act 1996 and the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996.

The Education Act, for example, states succinctly in Section 17(1) that “the national language shall be the main medium of instruction in all educational institutions in the National Education System”.

The exceptions from compulsory use of Bahasa Malaysia are many and the discretion of the government is wide. Its use or non-use is a matter of political judgement and educational vision.

Constitutional exceptions: Despite Article 152, the country’s multilingual character is safeguarded by the law. The Constitution permits linguistic diversity and places special emphasis on familiarity with and use of English in several sectors.

No person shall be prohibited or prevented from using (other than for official purposes), teaching or learning, any other language: Article 152(1)(a). Federal and state governments have the right to preserve and sustain the use and study of the languages of any other community: Article 152(1)(b).

Article 152(2) provides that for a period of 10 years after Merdeka and thereafter until Parliament

provides, English may be used in Parliament, state assemblies and for all other official purposes.

The National Language Act in Section 5 provides that with the permission of the presiding officer, English may be used in Parliament or any state assembly.

Article 152(3) and Sections 6-7 of the National Language Act provide that all post-September 1967 laws

at the federal and state levels must be in two languages: Malay and English, the former being authoritative.

Article 152(4) and (5), when read with Section 8 of the National Language Act, provide that all court proceedings shall be in Malay. However, the presiding judge may permit the use of English.

Article 161(3) and (4) state that any restrictions on the use of English in judicial proceedings relating to Sabah and Sarawak cases cannot become law without the consent of the legislatures of these states.

Article 161(5) allows the use of native languages in Sabah and Sarawak for purposes of native courts, native codes and native customs.

Exceptions under the NLA: The National Language Act (NLA) in Section 2 commands the use of Malay for all official purposes. However, it contains a number of significant exceptions.

Section 4 provides that “the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may permit the continued use of the English language for such official purposes as may be deemed fit”.

It is noteworthy that this provision has no time limit and is not confined to any particular sphere.

However, a gazette notification has outlined the areas where English may be used.

This notification can be added to and expanded at the government’s discretion.

Such a discretion is indeed exercised in relation to the International Islamic University Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Mara, many public and private universities and colleges as well as the 69 fully residential schools.

In tertiary institutions, all twinning programmes and external courses use English. Many continuing education programmes in government departments also employ English.

National television and radio use the whole spectrum of languages spoken in the country.

The application of the NLA in Sabah and Sarawak is not automatic. The NLA applies in Sabah and Sarawak only if the state legislatures adopt it: NLA Section 1(2).

The federal and state governments have a very wide power “to use any translation of official documents or communications in any other language for such purposes as may be deemed necessary in the public interest”: Section 3, NLA.

Education Act 1996: The national language need not be the main medium of instruction in national type (vernacular) schools established under Section 28.

In addition, Section 17(1) authorises the Minister to exempt any other educational institution from using Malay as the main medium of instruction.

The power of the Minister is broad enough to extend to all types of primary and secondary schools. The permutations of law and policy are immense.

Section 143 exemption: The Minister of Education has discretion to exempt any educational institution or any class or classes of institutions from the Act except as to registration.

English as a compulsory subject: In all national primary and secondary schools, the English language is a compulsory subject of instruction.

No statutory guidelines are given as to how many hours per week English may be taught; therefore, the Minister’s discretion is very wide to enhance the teaching and learning of the language and the level of competence that must be attained and whether a pass or credit in English is a prerequisite to obtaining the necessary certificate or accreditation.

Private educational institutions: Under Sections 73(3) and 75, private higher educational institutions are provided much latitude and autonomy.

Section 75(1)(a) implies that Malay need not be the main medium of instruction, but in such a case it shall be a compulsory subject in the curriculum.

Mandarin and Tamil: In the broad spirit of Article 152, the Education Act 1996 in Section 2 provides that the Chinese or Tamil language shall be made available in national primary and national secondary schools if the parents of at least 15 pupils in the school make such a request.

Indigenous languages: Likewise, indigenous languages, Arabic, Japanese, German or French or any other foreign language may be made available if it is reasonable and practisable so to do.

Act 555: The Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996 permits private universities to flourish and gives them considerable autonomy in the matter of language of instructions, but with the requirement that the Malay language shall be taught as a subject and shall be a prerequisite to the award.

In sum, the Constitution and the laws require us to honour and promote the national language, but also to keep the windows of our mind open to the world by learning and using English and other foreign languages.

With the permission of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Minister, the use of English and other languages in our schools and universities is neither illegal nor against national policy.

The following types of schools can be exempted from the national Malay language policy:

> Government schools that are national primary, national-type primary and national secondary

> Government-aided schools that are national primary, national-type primary and national secondary

> Private schools

The Minister’s discretion is very wide to enhance the teaching and learning of the English language and the level of competence that must be attained as a prerequisite to obtaining the necessary certificate or accreditation.

The law permits considerable flexibility and many permutations of the law and policy are possible. Any changes are a matter of courage and imagination.

To paraphrase Jesse Jackson: Leaders of substance do not follow opinion polls; they mould opinion, not with guns or dollars or positions but with the power of their souls.

By Shad Saleem Faruqi
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Students of different races play vital role in empowering national language

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

SEPANGGAR: The involvement of students of various races in activities that can empower Bahasa Melayu is crucial, said Sabah Minister of Education and Innovation, Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob.

He said, activities such as the State-level Bahasa Melayu Co-Academic Competition organised by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) and Malaysian Education Ministry is one of the examples that could elevate the national language among the youths.

The competitions held at Kampus Intan Sabah yesterday during the event consist of the Teen Forum, Sahibbah for Primary Schools and Secondary Schools, Poetry Recital, and Syair Presentation.

“For me, each of the competitions shows our initiative to preserve our national language, in line with the objective of the Federal Constitution. It also creates awareness among the youths about the importance of national language in developing a nation.

“I hope these competitions could educate our students, regardless of their race, language, and background on the importance of using the correct national language,” he said.

He said this in his text speech which was delivered by Assistant Minister to Minister of Education and Innovation Mohammad Mohamarin during the closing ceremony of the Bahasa Melayu Co-Academic Competition.

He added that the youths are the nation’s most important assets, as they will be the next leaders in the future; therefore they need to be efficiently equipped with knowledge and education.

Besides that, the school’s involvement in empowering the usage of national language among students is also pivotal.

“This is in line with the competition’s objective which is to provide a platform for students to use standard Malay language among themselves,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sabah Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka Director Aminah Awang Besar stressed that the involvement of DBP in the competition is one of their continuous efforts to preserve the national language.


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Bringing Bahasa Melayu to the fore

Monday, April 15th, 2019
Teo (fourth from right) launching the MABBIM meet and unveiling the language body’s latest resource books.

Teo (fourth from right) launching the MABBIM meet and unveiling the language body’s latest resource books.

THE Education Ministry wants to widen the use of Bahasa Melayu (BM) not only within the country, but internationally.

Measures to promote it include requiring that students get at least a credit in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), organising the National Language Decade campaign, and working with non-governmental organisations to help improve the mastery of BM especially in vernacular schools.

“We also want Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) to be the go-to body for BM like how the British Council is for English,” Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said when opening the 58th meeting of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia Language Council (MABBIM) at Wisma DBP in Kuala Lumpur on April 10.

Held from April 8 to 13, the event saw 11 papers presented at the MABBIM language seminar.

“Closer collaborations between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei can make that happen.”

In his speech, DBP director-general Datuk Abang Salehuddin Abang Shokeran said, since its inception 47 years ago, MABBIM has carried out various efforts to build and promote BM and Bahasa Indonesia, including publishing dictionaries, and research and resource books, and organising language workshops.

“BM is an important language of communication in South East Asia. We’re drawing up plans to make it an international language amidst the challenges of IR 4.0 (Fourth Industrial Revolution).”

By Christina Chin
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Candidates can take SPM Bahasa Melayu as single paper

Monday, April 8th, 2019
Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said in such cases candidates would only be given the results slip of the particular subject and not the SPM certification. NSTP/MOHD YUSNI ARIFFIN

KUALA LUMPUR: Students who want to take Bahasa Melayu as a single paper for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination can do so with the approval of the National Examination Board.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said in such cases candidates would only be given the results slip of the particular subject and not the SPM certification.

“If the candidate only takes BM paper, then the result slip will only be given for that subject and this can only be done with the approval of the National Examination Board,” she said.

Teo also clarified that the full SPM certificate would only be given to candidates who took six compulsory subjects and scored at least credits for both the BM and History papers.

The six compulsory subject for all SPM candidates are BM, English, Islamic Studies or Moral Studies, History, Mathematics and Science.

Earlier today, during the question and answer session, Teo said SPM candidates were allowed to take one subject instead of the prerequisite six subjects, if candidates were given prior approval.

She was replying to Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong (Ayer Hitam-BN) who had asked whether SPM would be made into an open examination, where candidates would be allowed to sit for a single subject.

By Beatrice Nita Jay.

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Cambridge IGCSE to offer Bahasa Melayu subject

Thursday, November 15th, 2018
(File pix) (From left) Cambridge AssessmentInternational Education Southeast Asia & Pacific regional director Dr Ben Schmidt, Education Ministry private education division deputy director Ahmad Lotfi Zubir and Cambridge International country director (Malaysia and Brunei) Ng Kim Huat during launch of Cambridge IGCSE First Language Malay syllabus recently. Pix by Amirudin Sahib

MALAYSIAN students undertaking the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) as a pathway towards tertiary education can now choose Bahasa Melayu as a subject.

The Cambridge IGCSE First Language Malay (0696) syllabus, introduced recently by the Cambridge Assessment International Education, offers a higher level and more challenging studies in Bahasa Melayu.

Schools can start teaching the syllabus in September next year, with the first exam being set for June 2021.

Prior to its introduction, Cambridge IGCSE offers only the Malay Foreign Language (0546) subject for students with no basic grounding in Bahasa Melayu.

Cambridge Assessment International Education Southeast Asia & Pacific regional director Dr Ben Schmidt said the 0696 syllabus is catered for Malay native speakers.

Candidates should have studied a Malay-language curriculum at lower secondary level or an equivalent national education framework.

“We regularly review and update the programmes and qualifications that we offer to ensure they reflect the latest developments in teaching and learning in each country.

“These updates are implemented to ensure that what we offer is parallel to the needs of schools around the world. In Malaysia, there is growing demand for a first language qualification in Bahasa Melayu.

“This is a positive sign that native speakers are looking to advance their comprehension skills, and want to learn to respond knowledgeably and critically on a wide range of topics. With that, we are excited to introduce the Cambridge IGCSE First Language Malay,” said Schmidt.

“We will hold discussions with local universities and professional bodies to gain recognition for this qualification.”

The syllabus aims to harness the learners’ ability to communicate clearly, accurately and effectively in Bahasa Melayu, besides developing an effective writing style. Learners are also encouraged to read widely for their own enjoyment and develop an appreciation of how writers achieve their flair.

The syllabus is modelled after the successful and widely-recognised Cambridge IGCSE First Language English syllabus.

However, it is in no way meant to be an equivalent of Bahasa Melayu in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM).

Education Ministry private education division deputy director Ahmad Lotfi Zubir said: “The Cambridge IGCSE First Language Malay syllabus tests a different set of language skills than SPM Bahasa Melayu.”


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Standard BM framework a first

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is the first country to come up with a standardised framework for Bahasa Melayu.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the Bahasa Melayu Standard Framework will be used by all the institutions under his ministry from next year onwards.

“We will also give the framework to the other ministries to be used,” he told reporters after closing the National Language Month 2018 yesterday.

Dr Maszlee launched the framework at the same event

“We will also send the framework to the 21 (learning) institutions worldwide (that have Bahasa Melayu programmes),” he said.

On whether the framework would be applied to members of Parliament, he said that he, as Education Minister, would encourage his fellow Cabinet ministers to improve on their Bahasa Melayu language skills from time to time.

Institute of Teacher Education Bahasa Melayu Campus senior lecturer Lokman Abd Wahid said the framework is similar to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which is standardised and used internationally to determine English proficiency levels.

He said there were six proficiency levels in the framework.

Lokman, who is also the Malay language education programme manager at the ministry, said this framework would ensure Bahasa Melayu proficiency evaluations could be standardised.

He said there were plans to establish a Bahasa Melayu Council (Majlis Bahasa Melayu) to ensure the quality of the framework was maintained and improved from time to time.

He said the 18-member council would be similar to the British Council, which oversees English language usage.

By Rebecca Rajaendram
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Education Ministry to embark on ambitious plan to empower Bahasa Melayu

Thursday, July 12th, 2018
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the ministry, via Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), will launch Dekad Bahasa Kebangsaan (National Language Decade) which will map out a comprehensive plan to make the national language the language of choice in the country. BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry will redouble its effort to uphold Bahasa Melayu as the national language, not just in the country but also regionally and on a global scale

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the ministry, via Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), will launch Dekad Bahasa Kebangsaan (National Language Decade) which will map out a comprehensive plan to make the national language the language of choice in the country.

“Malaysia is ‘too small’ (to do justice to Bahasa Melayu). We will also be promoting and empowering the national language throughout the Asean region.

“Asean is also too small for the national language. That is why we will be taking Bahasa Melayu to the world stage,” he said.

Maszlee was speaking at the ministry’s monthly assembly and Hari Raya Aidilifitri celebration here on Thursday.

He said, over the next five years, the ministry will also work towards placing DBP on par with centres and language institutes of developed nations.

“We will work hard to elevate DPB on the same level as the British Council, Goethe Institute and Nippon Institute.

“It is with this aim in mind that we are embarking on this venture and we aim to make it a reality,” he said.

Maszlee said that at the same time, the ministry is aware that the reading culture among Malaysians have yet to reach a satisfactory level.

“In reality, it is lagging behind compared to other developed nations. The Education Ministry, in cooperation with other ministries and its agencies, will revive the National Reading Campaign, first introduced in the 1990s, which will run for two years,” he said.

The campaign will involve two stages – the first two years will see a more aggressive, radical and unconventional approach to ensure that Malaysians inculcate the reading habit.

“From 2020 to 2030, the period will be declared the National Language Decade. DBP will once again be entrusted with spearheading this initiative and we hope that in 2030, Malaysians will be known around the world as a reading society,” he said.


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Shafie: Students should be encouraged to raise BM competency

Friday, June 29th, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Students should be encouraged to raise their competency in the national language (Bahasa Melayu) by participation in extra-curricular activities and competitions using the language.

Such competitions include poetry recitation, Scrabble and youth forum, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

He said such competitions helps enhance the students’ command of the language, and also generate awareness in them about the importance of learning and promoting it.

“Regardless of race and background we must always try to elevate our command of our national language, and raise awareness among our children of the importance of the national language in the development of our country,” he said in his speech at the closing of the poetry recitation competition at the INTAN Sabah campus yesterday.

His speech was delivered by the Assistant Minister of Education and Innovation, Mohammad Mohamarin.

About 200 students and 120 teachers from 24 districts in Sabah participated in the competition which was held June 25-28.

The competition was jointly organised by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Sabah (the language and literary board), State Education Department, Sabah Youth and Sports Ministry, and Institut Tadbiran Awam Negara (INTAN) Sabah. Shafie stressed that the youths are an important asset of the country, and will inherit its leadership.

“We must nurture them with education and responsibility that will steer and preserve our nation.” The Chief Minister said extra-curricular activities are healthy avenues through which youths can find their identities and direct their energies in creative ways.


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Bahasa Melayu a beautiful language

Thursday, June 21st, 2018
We should promote Bahasa Melayu and not limit children’s learning opportunities. FILE PIC

BAHASA Melayu is a distinguished and classy language, befitting its stature as our national language.

The language is infused with finesse and subtlety, making it one of the most beautiful languages in the world.

Just look at phrases like minta dirilangkah kanan or terima kasih.

Its translation into another language fails to capture its embedded cultural values, rendering it literal in impact.

That said, many feel that Bahasa Melayu is a lesser language. Often, the feeling is that Bahasa Melayu is too simplistic or too poetic.

It lacks the competitiveness to be as lucid and cogent as English or French.

I beg to differ. We feel this way because we do not know Bahasa Melayu well enough to appreciate it.

Admittedly, some words in Bahasa Melayu are not as efficient in letters as compared with English.

We tend to feel that perpustakaan is a mouthful compared with “library”, but we do not use the same yardstick when we compare “comprehensive” with tuntas.

Or maybe we have never heard of tuntas. The point I am making is that we need to continue our lessons in Bahasa Melayu.

As native speakers, we can ill afford haphazard of improper usage of the language.

Its usage needs to be not just correct but also fluent and immaculate.

At the same time, we need to safeguard the sanctity of Bahasa Melayu and nip in the bud preposterous WeChat language.

Here are some ways to achieve it.

We can start by reviewing Akta Bahasa Kebangsaan ) 1963/67 and give it a new breath of life or rather “teeth” to bite.

Missing from legislation is the legal implication to its offender.

Bahasa Melayu is a compulsory subject only up to the secondary level. At the tertiary level, it is an elective subject that is often ignored, unless you are majoring in language or communication.

This needs to change. Those in high offices are expected to have excellent command of Bahasa Melayu.

Only then will knowledge and skills be passed down.

A case in point was that not too long ago, we were anxiously waiting for new Malay words to be unearthed from the thickness of Kamus Dewan at a budget presentation at Parliament.

The music community should show off their prowess in Bahasa Melayu by writing beautiful songs with all the richness of its vocabulary.

It should not just be any words to fit the tempo.

M. Nasir has shown his worth in this. The lyrics in his songs are exemplary, reflective of his mastery of the language.

We could also benefit from better quality Bahasa Melayu publications in the market.

The authors and publishers play an important role to this end.

The public needs to read to learn. Romance novels are fine provided that proper Bahasa Melayu is used.

We should be more supportive and more enthusiastic towards language-related events, such as debates, poems writing competitions, pesta pantun and essay competitions to promote Bahasa Melayu.

It should be publicised in the media and we could tap social media to do this.

However, learning English or other languages will not be at the expense of Bahasa Melayu.

Learning Mathematics and Science in English does not make Bahasa Melayu a second-rate subject.

To object to this without making efforts to uphold Bahasa Melayu is just as ludicrous.

We should promote and not limit children’s learning opportunities.

It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but our children’s future is at stake.

BM as national language: Education Ministry mulls giving DBP enforcement power

Monday, November 13th, 2017
Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (left) said among the matters that will be highlighted to the proposed committee is the upgrading of the DBP’s role in enforcing Bahasa Malaysia from its current function as a reference body. (Pix by SHARUL HAFIZ ZAM)

JITRA: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) will be given the power to take legal action against those who failed to uphold Bahasa Malaysia as the national language.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the proposal to grant DBP with the enforcement power is one of the suggestions to be deliberated by a soon-to-be-set-up special Cabinet committee.

Mahdzir said the special committee, to be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, is being formed as part of an effort to further strengthen the use of national language in all sectors in the country.

He added that the matter will also be discussed in the next few weeks.

“I will table the proposal to the Cabinet within then next two or three weeks,” he said after attending a gathering with lecturers from Teachers’ Training Institute and Biro Tata Negara at Institut Perguruan Kampus Darulaman.

Mahdzir said among the matters that will be highlighted to the proposed committee is the upgrading of the DBP’s role in enforcing Bahasa Malaysia from its current function as a reference body.

“For example, the national language should be given priority in any websites and should the operators refused to comply with the regulation, DBP will have the authority to take action against the parties concerned.

“This proposal will be discussed by the special Cabinet committee before we can table it in Parliament for approval,” he said.

Mahdzir said the Education Ministry will also act as the secretariat for the committee which will include several other ministries such as the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry and the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti).


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