Is Bahasa Melayu still relevant?

Posted: 30th June 2015 by Jacky Yong in Current Affairs

Bahasa Melayu (BM) (or Bahasa Malaysia if you choose to be patriotic) is Malaysia’s national language, nothing can dispute that. All of us learn the language in (national) school, and all official government matters must be conducted in BM. But in this continually evolving and globalised world, is BM still relevant?

I know I touch a lot of raw nerve when I say this, but one must be objective when evaluating this issue. Already languages are dying all over the world. No hard feelings, it’s just business. Due to deaths and assimilations of cultures, it is estimated that up to 90% of all languages in the world will be dead by the end of the 21st century! Already you can see it happening. Cantonese, once considered lingua-franca in Hong Kong, is dying because Hong Kongers send their kids to learn up Mandarin (or Pu Tong Hua as it is known in China) and English, as they are deemed more marketable. Increasingly more and more children growing up in Hong Kong do not know how to speak Cantonese!

Also a lot of once-hermit countries are also opening up to more globally accepted languages as well. Look at Japan, its citizen was once considered arrogant because of its refusal to accept the global standards (ISO, BSI, etc) in many areas. But recently Honda Japan has adopted English as its official language, alongside other Japanese companies like Rakuten, Uniqlo and Bridgestone. But this is not unique to the Japanese. Other worldwide giants like Audi, Lenovo, Samsung and Renault have also done the same. Surely with all this big corporations making the switch, it must be for a good reason?

So why aren’t we changing to English yet? Why are we still harping on the issue of keeping BM as the official language as our education system? Why not make English a compulsory pass subject yet? Except to appease the few of those “higher up the political ranks”, what use does BM has in this world?

Food for thoughts, now I’ll leave you with a few funny lines directly translated into Malay.