KUALA LUMPUR May 10 - Leaders must speak in the correct Bahasa Melayu at official functions to promote the usage of the national language, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said Monday.
He said the language culture of present leaders was akin to "Touch N Go" which would eventually be followed by the people.
"We must speak the national language correctly. The correct use of Bahasa Melayu should begin with those in authority. If the leaders do not converse in proper Bahasa Melayu, our younger generation will also not speak the language correctly," he told reporters after visiting the National Arts Academy.
This trend, if left unchecked, would lead to the birth of a generation speaking "bahasa rojak" or mixed language, he said.
As such, leaders should set an example by speaking the language correctly, he said.
"For instance, when you speak in English, speak in proper English. Likewise, when speaking in Bahasa Melayu, speak the language correctly.
"If our spoken language is not right, people will say it's not right," he said.
Dr Rais questioned the attitude of certain quarters who disputed the government's action in the "bahasa rojak" or mixed language issue as not honouring the national language as enshrined under Article 160 of the Federal Constitution.
"If such a honour is not accorded to the national language, why should we enact the National Language Act? Since we've the Act, we should implement it," he added.
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