Language month lacks focus

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sun Aug 28 14:40:12 UTC 2005

>>From The Star (Malaysia), Sunday August 28, 2005

Language month lacks focus


SEPTEMBER has been declared National Language and Literature Month but
Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein feels more needs to
be done to promote a love for Bahasa Malaysia. Although many activities
have been planned for the month, they lack focus.  They are not effective
and regarded as routine. No clear target has been set. With globalisation,
the future of many indigenous languages are being threatened. We need to
redouble our efforts and make it more focused.

To make it a success, we need a clear plan and target, better
co-ordination between the main bodies involved, a sense of ownership among
citizens, as well as good media exposure and better marketing. In short we
need a new strategy, approach and programme, he told reporters on
Wednesday after chairing his ministrys post Cabinet meeting. Hishammuddin
added that widespread movement was needed to create a love for the
national language. Every Malaysian should be proud of Bahasa Malaysia as
it is a reflection of our national identity. They should be proficient in
the language and promote it worldwide.

He added that Bahasa Malaysia should be honoured as a language of
knowledge and unity. Nevertheless, we need to acknowledge the need for us
to speak second and other languages to compete globally. To ensure a more
effective strategy, Hishammuddin has asked Dewan Bahasa and [dan] Pustaka
to study the reasons for the English language's rapid growth as well as
look into how Japan, Germany and France have developed their respective

And for a start, he has pledged that from next year, the programme will be
incorporated into the Education Ministrys calendar of events. It will
involve all departments, divisions, matriculation centres, teacher
training colleges and schools throughout the country. I have asked
Education director-general Datuk Dr Ahamad Sipon to look into this and
streamline all the ministrys national language activities as well as those
done by other relevant bodies such as Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka and the
National Library.

Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim and Hishammuddin
will also jointly chair two committees on upholding the national language
and the national book policy. With expertise from both our ministries we
will be able to prepare notes for the Cabinet on the action taken so far
as well as the future direction of the national language in the Ninth,
Tenth and Eleventh Malaysia plans.

The National Reading and Literature Month will be launched by Pahang
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob in Kuantan on Sept 10. Several events
have been lined up including an exhibition, language camp and a poetry
festival. Hishammuddin, who is also Umno Youth Chief expressed the
movements willingness to co-operate with PAS Youth in tackling social
problems affecting youth. The minister said efforts to overcome social
problems, like drug addiction, should be viewed in a wider context by
putting aside political interests.

I welcome the proposal by PAS youth leader Salahuddin Ayub to look into
(social) problems, he told reporters at his office in Putrajaya.

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