RESPECT IS THE WORD
25 Nov 2010 Ong Wei Ling
Saying this was Special Advisor to the Chief Minister, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Haji Satem, when asked by a foreign participant of an international conference on ‘Minority and Majority:
Language, Culture and Identity’ to reveal what it was that kept Sarawak peaceful and its multiracial people living in harmony with each other.
He said that despite all the differences in race, beliefs, culture and practices, Sarawakians could still agree with each other on a wide range of subjects, and in a worst case scenario, could still find a middle path acceptable to all.
The two-day conference which ended yesterday was organised by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s (UNIMAS) Centre for Language Studies and Malaysian Association of Modern language. The sponsors were Sarawak Convention Bureau, Bank Rakyat and Yayasan Sarawak.
During a question-and-answer session later, Adenan said that the Malay language was not just a language for the Malay but was the lingua franca of the South East Asian region.
A foreign academician had asked him about the use of the language in the country and its usage in the school system and in language relations in Malaysia.
In Malaysia, he said, there were many types of schools – international schools, national schools, binary schools and religious schools. “There is nothing that can stop these schools from developing because they follow the same (government) policy”.
He also said that one must not be too proud of one’s language and refuse to accept other languages. A good example, he added, was the almost extinct Sanskrit because its speakers in the olden days refused to accept other languages and cultures. “English in comparison is very practical and is open to any culture, and so too is Bahasa Malaysia,” he added.