English can be a language of Malaysian unity and teach Sejarah and Agama in English

By Azly Rahman

Contrary to many an opinion of Malaysian linguistic nationalists, I do believe that English language can be a powerful force of revolutionary change — and a language of Malaysian unity primarily.

Bahasa Melayu has its own dignity but do not have the power to become a language of postmodern science and technology. In its current form, Bahasa Melayu is being destroyed by its own internal contradictions and suitable only as a language of literature and Malaysian bureaucracy. Everytime it tries to transform itself into a language of science and technology it become closer to becoming yet another periphery of the Center; it becomes subservient to the English Language. Why English language is a lingua franca can be explained by its ease of transformation. Philologists have written extensively on this phenomena.

Bahasa Melayu is fast evolving into a language of Ketuanan Melayu; abused for political reasons. Language is an expression of culture and helps construct the social reality of that culture. The phrase "kedaulatan Bahasa Melayu" is not a necessary slogan. No language has a dimension of Divine Sanctity unless it is pegged to the concept of "kerajaan" or the maintenance of this or that status quo however oppressive it may be. In this case, no race in Malaysia is challenging the dignity of the Malay language. I believe it is merely a political play.

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