KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 — A Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) professor has suggested that Malaysian children be required to learn the Malay language before they are given the blue identity cards for citizenship.
Datuk Zainal Kling wrote in Mingguan Malaysia, the Sunday edition of local daily Utusan Malaysia, that language used to be a requirement for citizenship, but Parliament removed this when then Gerakan co-founder Tan Sri Dr Tan Chee Khoon said Malaysians had already learned Bahasa Melayu, which is also the country’s national language, well in Chinese and Indian vernacular schools as well as in national schools.
“If the third requirement, their language, is not fulfilled, don’t give them the blue identity card, give them the temporary red one,” Zainal said, referring to the red MyKad for permanent residents.
Currently, a child is granted Malaysian citizenship if one or both parents are Malaysians or a permanent resident.
Zainal, who is a professor at UUM’s college of law, government and international studies, was a speakers at a forum called “Wacana Bahasa Melayu Wasiat Keenam Raja-Raja Melayu” that was held at Dewan Utusan Melayu here last Thursday. It was organised by the Utusan Group, together with the Majlis Perundingan Melayu (MPM) and Gabungan Persatuan Penulis Nasional (Gapena).
He also wrote that Malaysian professors could write books on technology in Malay, in response to the English terminology in new technologies.
“We have the manpower, we have 10,000 academics from 20 public universities and hundreds of private universities to produce technical writings in the Malay language. So there won’t be a problem if Chinese nationals, Koreans, Japanese and Siamese write technical materials in English,” said Zainal.
“We don’t need one billion Chinese nationals to learn English to send the Chinese to the moon, no need. We only need a few hundred people to understand a foreign language.
“We don’t need 31 million Malaysians learning English to understand technology. In fact, just one per cent is enough and then we teach in Malay. This is what should be happening,” he added.
There has been tension between Malay nationalists seeking to uphold Bahasa Malaysia and those who want school students to master English, with Malay groups and even some Opposition parties opposing the dual-language programme (DLP).
Under the pilot phase of the DLP, 300 selected schools are given the option to teach Science and Mathematics in English or Bahasa Malaysia to Year One and Year Four pupils.