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Use Bahasa Malaysia In All Official Engagements Abroad, PM Ismail Sabri Says
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Use Bahasa Malaysia In All Official Engagements Abroad, PM Ismail Sabri Says

Ismail Sabri said it shouldn’t be an issue and cited Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim as an example.

Adeline Leong

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Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said government officials must only use Bahasa Malaysia when speaking at conferences and other engagements abroad.

In a report by Free Malaysia Today, Ismail Sabri said speaking in Bahasa Malaysia should not be an issue because there are modern gadgets to translate languages in real-time without delay.

“There is no reason for us to feel awkward talking in Bahasa Melayu  in other countries when others are proud of using their national languages. It is our national language and we should be proud of using it.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told reporters in Bangkok

Ismail Sabri added that he spoke in Bahasa Malaysia at all functions in Bangkok except for one where all the foreign dignitaries present used English to deliver their speeches.

He cited Environment and Water Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man as an example when he delivered his keynote address at the COP26 event in Glasgow last year in Bahasa Malaysia.

Ismail praised Tuan Ibrahim and said everyone should emulate the minister’s attitude.

Malaysiakini reported that Tuan Ibrahim’s decision to deliver the speech in Bahasa Malaysia was met with mixed responses.

While some applauded him for being proud of his mother tongue, others think it was not the right place to do so.

This is not the place to be a fighter of the nation. Just imagine if each representative spoke in their mother tongue [at COP26]. Will the goals be achieved?

Facebook user Amirul Ihsan wrote.

Some believed choosing to speak in Bahasa Malaysia meant that Tuan Ibrahim wasn’t good at conversing in English.

People who supported Tuan Ibrahim said he was better than another minister who couldn’t speak Bahasa Malaysia although they were born and raised in Malaysia.

Tuan Ibrahim’s decision missed a key detail

At the time, Tuan Ibrahim told Malaysiakini he decided to speak in Bahasa Malaysia after seeing the other country representatives speaking in their mother tongue.

However, Sahabat Alam Malaysia president Meenakshi Raman claimed that Tuan Ibrahim’s last-minute decision to switch to Bahasa Malaysia meant there were no translators when he delivered his speech.

That’s right. Because in the United Nations (UN), Bahasa Malaysia is not recognised as an official language. So when you go to the UNFCCC-COP 26 to speak, you can speak in Bahasa Malaysia, but you have to have your own translator. You have to pay or bring your own translator. Don’t expect the UN to provide one.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia president Meenakshi Raman told Malaysiakini

She said it’s not wrong for him to speak in Bahasa Malaysia but there must be a direct translation when speaking.

The translation of Tuan Ibrahim’s speech is in a hard copy. His speech was distributed (to the delegation).

Sahabat Alam Malaysia president Meenakshi Raman

Zahid’s less than perfect English address in 2016

It’s understandable why Tuan Ibrahim would have wanted to speak in a language he was comfortable in.

Previously in 2016, New Straits Times reported that the then Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was criticised when his speech at the 71st United Nations General Assembly in English was riddled with wrong pronunciations.

In light of the criticisms, Zahid said he was proud that a religious school graduate like him had been given the opportunity to speak at an important event on the world stage.

Maybe I did not pronounce one or two words correctly but at least, I was able to represent the country.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi

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