Bahasa Melayu is the national language of Singapore. But many Singaporeans now, including an increasing number of Malays, are not able to speak Malay.
In the past, Malay was a common language which facilitated communication between the different races in Singapore. It was the common language used in the markets and shops and it was not unusual to hear a Chinese or Indian person speak in Malay when buying goods or groceries from a Malay trader. Even when an Indian person does business with a Chinese, Malay is often used to communicate with each other. This was how a country with diverse races and languages and various dialects managed to integrate and coexist harmoniously with one another.
However, as English was promoted to be used as a working language, it has gradually replaced Malay as the common language among the races. Furthermore, with the influx of foreigners brought into the country, it is a worry whether Malay will eventually be relegated to a 3rd tier ‘foreign’ language only spoken by a small minority of Malays.
If Malay is accorded the national language status, then it should be treated as such. It should be much more than just the language used in our national anthem, military commands or in special occasions. Maybe one way to promote the use of Malay again would be to re-introduce basic Malay as a third language or a non-examination subject in our schools. The government should also make it compulsory for foreigners to be able to understand and speak basic Malay, especially since it is a disgrace if these new citizens are not able to sing our national anthem.
#MalaysunderrepresentedinSingapore #MalaysmisrepresentedinSingapore #bahasamelayu #nationallanguage