Rais Yatim said the Malay language should be the official language of Asean for diplomacy and communication by the members, in line with its position as the major language in the region.
The socio-cultural affairs adviser to the Malaysian government is pushing for the Malay language, spoken by over 300 million or half of the population of Southeast Asia, to be made the official language of Asean.
“The main language in Southeast Asia is Bahasa Melayu but unfortunately, it is not placed where it should be, that is, as the official language of diplomacy and communication at Asean’s official ceremonies and events.”
He said this at a press conference, here, Saturday after delivering his keynote address at the ‘Malay World Meeting 2017’ forum, organised by the Federation of National Writers’ Associations Malaysia (Gapena) and the Malay World Islamic World or Dunia Melayu Dunia Islam (DMDI), Thailand.
Rais said Asean leaders who used the Malay language needed to play a role in promoting its agenda to bring the language to a higher level in the region.
He said efforts to uplift the position of the Malay language in the region would also be in line with the proposal by Prime Minister Najib Razak to make Bahasa Melayu as the language of Asean by 2050.
He said at a 1987 Asean-level meeting on culture in Jakarta, Malaysia and Indonesia had made the effort to place Bahasa Melayu/Bahasa Indonesia as the regional association’s choice of language for speeches and diplomacy. However the proposal it did not progress further.
Rais said raising the position of the Malay language in line with its status as the main language in the region was only logical because if not done, English would become the region’s official language instead.
Gapena and DMDI, he said, had a role to play through establishing regional networking to increase efforts to uplift the status of the Malay language.
He also called on the Malay Language Council of Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore to be the catalyst for this regional cooperation.
Also present at the forum were Gapena president Zainal Abidin Borhan and DMDI Thailand president, Wan Muhamad Nor Matha, the kingdom’s former parliamentary Speaker.-BERNAMA