Ismail Sabri should countermand the directive of the Chief Secretary to the government to the PSD to punish civil servants for using English

The Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri should explain why he is promoting British luxury brand like the RM5,500 Burberry shirt while punishing civil servants for using English.

I agree with G25, a group of influential Malays, and the former Minister for International Trade and Industry (Miti), Rafidah Aziz who criticised the Chief Secretary to the government, Mohd Zuki Ali, for his call to the Public Services Department to consider corrective and punitive measures to enforce the use of Bahasa Malaysia in the civil service and other government-related agencies including GLCs (government-linked companies).

Zuki would like to see full compliance with government policy as it was announced by the prime minister that the national language is used not only within the country but also internationally.

While G25 supported the role and importance of Bahasa Malaysia for creating a united nation between the various races that form the country, it stressed the importance of the recognition of English as the universal language of the international community in many aspects of daily life.

G25 said: “Malaysia will have a lot to lose if there are punitive measures on those who use English in their official work in government departments because there are many areas in which civil servants may have to communicate and express themselves in English to get a common understanding of the problems and issues they face.”

Rafidah said when she served as the International Trade and Industry Minister from 1987 to 2008, she had requested all communication to be done in English for efficiency and efficacy in their delivery of services and it was approved by the Cabinet at the time.

She stressed that the competence of the officers in communicating in English was a key driver and pull factor in attracting high levels of quality investments, especially in the targeted and strategic areas and sectors.

She warned that if the mindset of “being inward-looking” continues to persist with penalties imposed for not communicating with the rest of the world in English, Malaysia will become the “bureaucratic pariah in ASEAN, held back by many shortcomings”.

The Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri, must have the courage to countermand the directive of the Chief Secretary to the government to the Public Service Department for punitive measures against civil servants for using English.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri