IT’S been quite an interesting journey since our Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem so wisely decided to make English an official language of our great State again.
We’ve really seen how narrow-minded some people from across the South China Sea can be and it really does not surprise me.
Over the weekend I attended a party in a village nearby. Guests were Sarawakians of all ethnic groups. Guess what language we were all speaking? That’s right. We all spoke English to each other.
Sure we also spoke Bahasa Sarawak, Bidayuh, Iban, Melanau and various Chinese dialects at the party from time to time, but most of the time, the language that united our conversations was English.
Yup, the use of the English language did not disunite us at all. I realise we were just a small sampling of Sarawak, but I am pretty sure we were a pretty good reflection of Sarawakians across our great State.
Lately, we Sarawakians have been feeling pretty smug I must say.
Hey they made it easy for us with brilliant moves such as Scissors Salad, DBKL’s lovely welcome for US President Barack Obama, and really the list goes on.
I am definitely not saying that Sarawakians have perfect English. Far from it.
However, we recognise the importance of being able to communicate competently in this international language and that something needs to be done to ensure we don’t fall further behind the rest of the world.
Thankfully Adenan has stood firm and dismissed his critics.
In true Sarawakian style, our CM simply said: “I respect their decision. I don’t care what they say.”
He went on to point out that Sarawak is just being practical. Adenan recognises that we live in a globalised world and that’s why we need the English language.
Adenan also highlighted that everyone in Sarawak wants it. Yup, you’ve got that right. We support you Datuk Patinggi.
The story by The Malaysian Insider:
Adenan dismisses critics, to make English 2nd official language in Sarawak
By Desmond Davidson
Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem today had a short, curt message to his critics in the peninsula who are against his decision to make English the state’s second language and the preferred official language of the state administration.
“I respect their decision. I don’t care what they say,” he told reporters in Bau, Sarawak today.
He was asked about criticism of his decision by Malay interest groups and personalities like former minister Tan Sri Rais Yatim, who is now the social and cultural affairs adviser to the federal government.
Adenan said the decision was a practical one that would help Sarawakians be more competitive internationally.
“It’s a decision that suits Sarawak. Everyone in Sarawak wants it,” he said when asked about Rais’s contention that the state’s move to adopt English would sow discord among the people.
Rais had been reported by national news agency Bernama saying that there should have been a consensus first before Adenan’s decision “because it also involved the Federal Constitution”.
Adenan brushed this argument aside saying his decision did not involve discarding Bahasa Malaysia as the national language.
“We are having both. We can have both,” he said after disbursing native customary land titles and compensation for land acquired by the government in this former gold mining town about 50km from Kuching today.
Adenan, who had been labelled as not being nationalistic or patriotic enough, on Saturday had defended his decision again, using the words “pseudo nationalists” when talking about Malay interest groups and individuals in the peninsula who have criticised him for giving prominence to English.
He said they should be realistic and practical as Malaysians did not live in isolation.
“We are not living on the moon,” Adenan had said.
The state’s Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg had earlier explained that the decision to make English the state’s second language was Sarawak’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and Sarawak was merely upholding this right.
Abang Johari said the agreement, signed by Sarawak, Malaya, Sabah and Singapore for the formation of Federation of Malaysia in 1963, allowed the state to retain English as the official language.
Abang Johari added that since the Sarawak legislative assembly, unlike Sabah’s, never endorsed the National Language Act 1967, English by law is Sarawak’s second language.
“Sarawak still accepts Bahasa Malaysia as its official language.
“(The Malaysia Agreement) therefore, allows us to have both English and Bahasa Malaysia as the official languages so let the status quo be maintained,” he had said. – November 24, 2015.