Malaysia to Levy Fines for Poor Speech

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Oct 5 16:12:46 UTC 2006

Forwarded from linganth at

Malaysia to Levy Fines for Poor Speech


Filed at 7:52 a.m. ET

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Malaysia will levy fines on those
incorrectly using the national language, and will set up a specialized
division to weed out offenders who mix Malay with English, news reports
said Thursday. Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Rais Yatim said fines
of up to 1,000 ringgit ($271) can be imposed on displays with any wrong or
mutated form of Malay, the Star newspaper reported. The move was to ensure
''the national language was not sidelined in any way,'' Rais said,
according to The Star. Fines will be imposed after a first warning, the
national news agency Bernama quoted Rais as saying.

Most Malaysians speak Malay, also known as Bahasa Malaysia, while English
is widely spoken but a mutated form, known as ''Manglish'' -- a mishmash
of English, Malay and other local dialects is commonly used in the
Southeast Asian nation. The government will attempt to swap commonly used
English language words with Malay substitutes, The Star said. ''It has to
be admitted that a mixture of Bahasa Malaysia and English sometimes cannot
be helped, but we hope these measures can arrest the decline,'' Rais said,
according to The Star.

He said a national language unit will be set up in an attempt to reduce
the English-Malay mix, especially at official functions. An official at
Rais' ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed his comments
as reported. Critics have said Malaysia's decision to sideline English in
favor of Malay is hurting its global competitiveness level and a downward
spiral in English language standards among students.

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