Wan Junaidi: Sarawak can use English or Bahasa Melayu at official functions

Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar explained that Sarawak under the Federal Constitution has the option to use both English and Bahasa Malaysia as its official language. — Bernama pic
Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar explained that Sarawak under the Federal Constitution has the option to use both English and Bahasa Malaysia as its official language. — Bernama pic

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KUCHING, Nov 30 ― Sarawak has the option to use either English or Bahasa Melayu at official functions, therefore choice of language is not an issue, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliament) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

In a press statement issued in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, the Santubong MP explained that Sarawak under the Federal Constitution has the option to use both English and Bahasa Malaysia as its official language.

Wan Junaidi stressed that Article 161 of the Federal Constitution, which is on protections for Sabah and Sarawak, states that Sarawak has the freedom to continue using English and also its native languages, together with Bahasa Malaysia, as an official medium of communication.

“This provision is originally incorporated as per annexure A to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63),” he said.

“As of today, Sarawak has not passed any ordinance or enactment in the Sarawak legislation to restrict or terminate the use of English as its official language as stated in Article 161(3) of Federal Constitution, Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) and Cobbold Commission Report.

“Moreover, Section 1(2) of the National Language Act 1963/67 (revised 1971) (National Language Acts) provides that with regards to Sabah and Sarawak, the respective state authorities may adopt National Language Acts by enactments of the Legislatures of the respective states,” he pointed out.

“This means that Sarawak, upon closer look at the wordings of the said National Language Acts, has the liberty to decide as to whether they would adopt the national language, which is Bahasa Malaysia, or to continue using English as the official language.

“At present, there has not been any ordinance or enactment that has been brought and passed in the Sarawak state legislature to adopt Malay language as their official language,” he added.

The National Language Act, enacted in 1963 and 1967 and revised in 1971, states that the Malay language is the official language for all official purposes with some limitations stated in S1(2) with regards to the position of the national language of Sabah and Sarawak, Wan Junaidi said.

However, Sarawak has not adopted the National Language Act as no law has been passed in the State Legislature to extend the said Act to Sarawak as required under Article 152 read together with Article 161 of the Federal Constitution, he added.

Hence, Sarawak, unlike other states in the Federation, is not required to use the national language in its official purposes, he pointed out.

Wan Junaidi was asked if Sarawak would follow the federal government directive for government-linked companies (GLCs), government agencies and those in the private sector to use Bahasa Melayu only at their official functions and meetings.

Earlier yesterday, a national news portal reported that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had reprimanded government agencies, GLCs and the private sector for prioritising the use of English over Bahasa Melayu at their events, meetings and conferences, and on their products.

Ismail Sabri said these agencies and firms have the responsibility to uphold the dignity of the Malay language, as no one could do that apart from the people of the land.

He said he had observed that sometimes Bahasa Melayu was not used in programmes and meetings organised by the private sector, and even by GLCs and government agencies.

It has become common that English is used for the names of companies, housing projects and brands, he said, adding the federal Perikatan Nasional (PN) government would support efforts to elevate Bahasa Melayu and also to make it an international language of the 21st century. ― Borneo Post

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