PETALING JAYA, June 25 — The decision by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng to issue an official statement in the Chinese language is meant for convenient information transfer between government agencies and the media, said Tras assemblyman Chow Yu Hui.
“The decision for Lim to issue trilingual statements was meant for the Chinese language media because it would help prevent information from being lost in translation due to the specific jargon used.
“By issuing statements in the Chinese language, this also shows the new government respects the language and culture diversity of Malaysia,” he said in a statement on Facebook.
Last Thursday, Lim held a press conference and issued a written statement containing policy updates on the Tun Razak Exchange project in three languages before attracting criticism from a Facebook page aligned to the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
“On May 12, Lim had said he was a Malaysian and not ethnic Chinese but on June 24, Lim said he would continue to issue official statements in Chinese.
“If Lim wants to issue in Chinese, why did he not admit he was an ethnic Chinese then? Doesn’t he know he as finance minister may get the title of forked tongue?” the post on the Friends of BN page reads.
Chow said the accusations lobbed at Lim were racist in nature because he had also included statements in both the national language and English.
“So why are they accusing him of disrespecting the national language?
“It has to be made clear that issuing Chinese language statements does not mean the total abolishment of Bahasa Malaysia language and the Facebook page accusing Lim of such action is without basis.
“The facts are different altogether as claimed... this is reflective of Umno’s longstanding smear tactics and it seems Umno has not learned its lesson after its defeat in GE14,” he said.
Chow added the issuing of trilingual statements should be adopted by other federal government agencies so that the government’s message can be passed on effectively and build a pluralistic society capable of competing with other countries in the region.
Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, had cited Article 152 (1) of the Federal Constitution in defending his use of Chinese in his ministry’s official statement.
In a Facebook statement issued in Chinese, he said using the language was a reflection of the current government’s recognition of multilingualism and globalisation.
“Under the Federal Constitution, no one is prevented from speaking, teaching, or learning other languages.
In the spirit of the Constitution, what is wrong with issuing a translated press release in Chinese or other languages?” he questioned.
Adding that his critics were making “racist accusations”, Lim said he would not bow to them and would continue to issue statements in both Bahasa Melayu and English as well as in Chinese when necessary.
Umno presidential candidate Khairy Jamaluddin also took a swipe at Lim, calling the finance minister’s defence of using Chinese language unacceptable.
“Such actions would not only be seen as a shifted focus on the language but also an attempt to change the language norm used by the government and spoil the effort to unite the country with one language,” he said in a Facebook posting today.
Khairy asked why Lim had not issued an English version instead if the statements were meant for international audience as done during the early days of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration.
“I am worried this act will continue to fan the flames of anger among the majority who are feeling increasingly threatened in recent weeks,” he said.
Former Johor mentri besar Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin described Lim’s action as degrading and insulting the status of Bahasa Melayu in the Federal Constitution and other official government dealings.
“As a country that upholds Bahasa Melayu as the official language, such acts clearly disrespect the Federal Constitution and administrative norms of the country.
“This is because the statement issued in Chinese was an official statement involving the administration of the country and public interest, and not something personal,” he said.
Khaled also recalled how Lim had responded by saying, “I am not Chinese, I am Malaysian” with regard to his appointment as finance minister, saying why it was not translated into consistency if Lim had meant to show his patriotism and was merely a political gimmick.
“Therefore I urge Lim to publicly apologise to all Malaysians who uphold and respect the status of Bahasa Melayu as the country’s official language,” he said.