Bahasa Melayu or Bahasa Malaysia is the official language of Malaysia. It's spoken mainly by the native as well as Malaysians of other races. Because it's an official language, it's the medium of instruction in schools and universities. It's also the language of the Court and the language that is used by the majority of Malaysians albeit officially. Although it's recognized as an official language by the Federal Constitution, the so called language of unity is actually dying. Below are my take on why Bahasa Malaysia is actually a dying language despite the recognition given to it by the government.
# Bahasa Malaysia is not widely used
One of the reasons why Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Melayu is a dying language is because it's not used as a popular language in the country. Most people in Malaysia actually use English. Practically, everybody nowadays uses English. Just browse the internet and you will notice that youngsters are using English everywhere. Just a handful of them use Bahasa Malaysia in it's corrupt version-meaning code switching. The same holds true for Instagram. They all use English. If go to the blogs , most of the established blogs or the blogs that people with high income or educated read are actually written in English. The extent use of English is Malaysia is very worrying. Once I went to Korea and I met several Koreans who were learning Bahasa Melayu and they told me that they wanted to go to Indonesia to learn Bahasa Melayu because its' difficult to find people in Malaysia willing to use Bahasa Melayu to speak to them in our mother tongue.
|Bahasa Melayu as a language of unity?|
# Influential people use English instead of Bahasa Malaysia
If tourists ever come to Malaysia , they will notice that most politicians and high ranking officials only use English. You will be surprised that most of the elite in Malaysia make English as their first language. Bahasa Melayu is still their mother tongue but somehow their main language at home is English. Najib Razak uses English at home. Most of the schoolchildren of the ministers including the Malays use English. Most of the important meetings at the state and federal levels are conducted in English. Sometimes the KSUs (Chief secretary General and the VIPS would order the departments to send their reps at the ministry level meeting people who are proficient in English. They themselves would conduct the meeting in English with one or two sentences at the beginning of the meeting. Sadly in a meeting to upgrade the standard of Malay or Bahasa Melyu is also conducted in English. Only a few ministers who support the use of Malay and these include ex deputy Prime Minister Muhyidin Yassin and Minister of Culture Rais Yatim. Najib Razak in his meetings would just do it in English. He's more at home using English than Malay.
# The importance of Bahasa Melayu is diminishing
Bahasa Melayu has lost its importance in Malaysia. English is the language considered very important. This is because in almost all the ministries and departments the people are using English. All the important meetings are conducted in English. Even in the university the faculty meetings are conducted mainly in English . This is sad but true. The most powerful newspaper in Malaysia is not a Malay newspaper but English. Most advertisers tend to advertise in English newspapers rather than in Malay newspaper. Even in the private sectors where not many people are fluent in English the main for of communication is done in English If you notice even the hyper market announcements are made in English. Just a few days ago in a bid to get rid of Muhyidin's Yasin's influence the government has approved the dual track language program that allows schools to use English to teach Maths and Science subjects. It seems that theres a group in the government which is going all out to promote English in schools at the expense of Bahasa Melayu. They manage to secure hundreds of millions of ringgit to start their their program , They are expecting up to 3000 schools to take part in the program. Bahasa Melayu is only used as a political tool by aspiring politicians .
# Bahasa Malaysia / Bahasa Melayu has lost its status
Bahasa Melayu used to be very strong when we achieved independence. It was thought as a unifying language for Malaysia. But somehow it was not to be . The status of Bahasa Malaysia has gone south. It's still being used by some people but the status of the language has diminished into a language of the needy , the criminal, language of the poor as well as the language used by the low class people. The language that is used among the intelligentsia is English, The language used at important meeting like the cabinet meeting is English. Bahasa Malaysia is now used by the majority of the poor people. The rich or the educate will only used English. The importance of English is also propagated by the non. Malays. because they refuse to be identified with anything that is Malay. They want only;y English or their mother tongue.
This is the state of the affair of Bahasa Melayu. It's showcased as an important language but it's actually dying a slow death. The agency tasked to protect it is useless and powerless. I'm not surprised one day it will be a language only remembered by the linguists and only treasured in the language museum.