KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — The Sarawak government is expected to discuss the use of English as the state official language and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) promises with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when the new prime minister visits.
Assistant Minister in the Sarawak Premier’s Office Datuk Abdullah Saidol told news portal The Malaysian Insight that the meeting is also expected to happen soon, but did not indicate a timeframe.
“Our state constitution is clear. We do not have an official language nor an official religion.
“The federal government has to respect the state’s constitution,” Abdullah was quoted as saying in the news report published today.
There has been concern in Sarawak over the increasing creep of right wing groups pushing the Malay agenda, including the use of Bahasa Melayu (BM), as the official language at all levels.
While Sarawak recognises BM as the national language, the state government has been using English as its main medium since 2015, basing it on Article 161 of the Federal Constitution that guarantees the Borneo states the freedom to choose their preferred languages for official communication.
Former federal minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was also reported to have said last year that Sarawak has not passed any legislation to restrict or end the use of English as its official language.
Abdullah, who leads the state government’s corporate affairs, information and public communications unit, also noted that these were just some of the matters that were party of Sarawak’s autonomous rights under MA63, and added that failure to keep them would not be tolerated.
“This includes disrespect of the state’s constitution and its rights,” he told the news portal.
Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg announced last Thursday that the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak coalition has agreed to form a unity government led by Anwar in compliance with the decree of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.