Bahasa Malaysia unifier and key to unity, says Sultan

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KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia is home to one of the world’s most diverse people, which is why the use of Bahasa Malaysia as a unifier is integral to its unity, said the Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah.

He noted that Malaysia has over 60 ethnic, sub-ethnic and indigenous tribes, of which 137 living languages are spoken, and although these cultures should be celebrated, the national language is the common tie that binds Malaysians.

“In our country, a majority of the population speak the Malay language, which we have adapted and known now as Bahasa Malaysia or the Malaysian language,” he said.

“It is our lingua franca, or common language, which is systematically used to make communication possible between people who do not share a native language or dialect.”

Sultan Nazrin said that with such diversity, language as well as the monarchy and the concept of democracy play significant roles in enhancing the country’s unity.

“However, many institutions and organisations have failed to use Bahasa Malaysia extensively,” he said.

“This has resulted in some Malaysians not developing a sense of ownership in regards to our national language.”

However, Sultan Nazrin also asserted that Malaysians have proved naysayers wrong when outsiders predicted the country would collapse because of its diversity and differences.

“Bahasa Malaysia played a very crucial role, as depicted by government campaigns during the early days of independence such as Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa (language is the soul of the people), in breaking down barriers and developing our sense of oneness,”
he said.