Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak defended the importance of the Malay language as it is the "language of unity".
"Even if you go to a Chinese or Indian vernacular school, you have to be able to speak Malay well (because) it is our language, our language of unity, our identity," Najib said in a speech during the Culture Congress 2017 in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) today.
The youths, he said, from all backgrounds and ethnicities need to learn to speak Malay well.
He acknowledged the importance of learning a second language, but stressed that they have to uphold the Malay language.
The English language, for example, is important for the country to be competitive on the world stage, he said.
In a speech text distributed to the press, local authorities were also encouraged to name housing areas, shopping malls and streets with names that have local elements and avoid using names with Western connotations.
One of the resolutions of the Culture Congress also said that the Dual Language Programme (DLP) should focus more on the national language, that is Malay, instead of English.
"The Malay language, as the national language, should be made the language of knowledge, administration, trade, and law in the country," the resolution read.
Rais: Audit BM usage
Echoing the prime minister, former minister Rais Yatim, who was also at the event, suggested a "national language audit" to ensure local companies and government agencies use Malay.
"We need to set a guideline and audit on Bahasa Melayu as the national language, which need to be conducted every six months or once a year," he told reporters after opening the congress, according to The Sun.
"With the audit (we will know) which companies or banks that refuse to use the national language in their official business,"
Rais, who is socio-cultural advisor to the government, said this was necessary as certain government agencies and government-linked companies were allegedly more keen in using English as their medium of communication.
Commenting on whether vernacular schools should be allowed, he said what needed to be done was for Malay to be empowered in the curriculum of the Chinese and Tamil schools.
"It does not matter where they want to study but it must be directed to the national aims that we have," Rais was reported as saying.
In a related matter, he also proposed an audit to look into the achievement of bumiputera in terms of the economy.
"There must be a data once a year. Currently, we do not know the ownership of property and shares owned by the Malay community," The Sun reported him as saying.- Mkini