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Netizens React To BM Proficiency Requirement For Malaysian Passport

Netizens React To BM Proficiency Requirement For Malaysian Passport

Saifuddin Nasution’s statement caused an argument among netizens on social media.

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Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has defended his stance on the requirement for Malaysian passport holders to be proficient in Bahasa Melayu.

In response to a recent viral incident, involving a woman who was mistreated at the Johor UTC for her inability to speak BM, Saifuddin argued that Malaysians should be expected to be proficient in the language as it is a requirement in the Federal Constitution.


“Previously, when the Home Ministry conducted citizenship studies, we found that language proficiency was also a requirement for citizenship in several of the world’s most advanced countries, such as Singapore and the UK. 

“If you cannot understand the local language, you are not eligible,” he was quoted saying. 

He added that the requirement was not negotiable as it can also avoid problems such as the one in the Johor UTC recently.

National pride 

Many online did not see an issue with Saifuddin’s remarks. Seeing how Bahasa Melayu is the national language, users felt it was only right for Malaysians to be judged based on their proficiency to be considered a citizen.


One user wrote, “Many are angry. But this is Malaysia, so one has to be proficient in speaking Malay. If you don’t like it, go back to your home country and speak your native language. Hahahaha.” 


Another user echoed similar remarks, commenting, “It is very strange for someone to be not fluent in the country’s language that they were born in.” 

Other users agreed with Saifuddin’s requirement and urged fellow Malaysians to be proud and fluent in the national language. 


Not inclusive 

While many embraced the requirement, there were users who felt that it was unfair to impose this as a rule. They felt this was discriminating against citizens such as the elderly who may not be fluent in the language. 

Considering how some grew up during the Japanese occupation, they may have had limited access to learning and mastering the language. 


Users also felt that this was not taking into account Malaysians who grew up overseas, not exposed to the national syllabus. 


Others thought that this was just outright discriminatory as it goes against the basic rights of a citizen in a country. 


Is language proficiency a requirement?

Contrary to what Saifuddin said, the requirement for a Malaysian to apply or renew their passport does not include BM proficiency, instead the main requirement is just to be a Malaysian.

As for the definition of being a citizen, Under Article 160B of the Federal Constitution, Bahasa Melayu is defined as the official language and is used for national communication, administration, and unity.

It remains unclear at this point if BM proficiency is now a legal requirement for passport application as it is not stated in the immgration website.

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