Categories: Latest NewsSingapore

M’sia PM Proposes Malay As 2nd Language In ASEAN, Claims Bloc Already Has Many Speakers

Malaysia PM Ismail Sabri Recommends Malay As 2nd Language In ASEAN

Malay is a commonly-used language in Singapore. Beyond being our National Language, Malay is also the language of our National Anthem and is one of the three main mother tongues taught in schools.


However, Malay is also popular in the region too, with folks from Malaysia and Indonesia speaking it too.

On Wednesday (23 Mar), Malaysia Prime Minister (PM) Ismail Sabri said he will be discussing with regional leaders the possibility of making Malay the “second language” of ASEAN.


Justifying the proposal, Mr Ismail Sabri pointed out that many countries in the ASEAN bloc are already known to converse in Malay.

PM Yaakob proposes Malay as 2nd language

According to Bernama, PM Ismail Sabri announced plans to propose Malay as the 2nd language in ASEAN during a question-and-answer session in the Dewan Negara.


The Malaysia PM was responding to questions about promoting the language internationally.

Stating the reasons for the proposal, Mr Ismail Sabri pointed out that apart from Malaysia, Malay is currently spoken in several regional countries like Indonesia and Singapore.


As such, Mr Ismail Sabri shared that there shouldn’t be any reason why Bahasa Melayu cannot be made one of the official languages of ASEAN.

He also pointed out that currently, only four out of 10 ASEAN countries use English during official events. The other six speak in their own official language and require translations.


Mr Ismail Sabri shared that he himself would often bring notes and references written in Malay to ASEAN meetings. He further elaborated:

We do not need to feel ashamed or awkward to use Bahasa Melayu at the international level.

Compulsory for foreign students to learn Malay

According to CNA, the announcement follows an earlier statement by the Malaysia PM to the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) General Assembly on 19 Mar.


In the statement, Mr Ismail Sabri said that foreign students enrolling in Malaysian universities must learn to converse in Malay.

Mr Yaakob told party delegates at the General Assembly,

The time has come for us to be proud of the Malay language.

Misuse of the language will also be penalized under new amendments for the ‘Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka’ Act, which coordinates the use of Malay within Malaysia.

An important touchstone of S’pore’s heritage

Malay is Singapore’s national language and is widely acknowledged as an important touchstone of cultural heritage within our country.

Hopefully, the push for Malay as an official language within the ASEAN bloc will help Singapore, as well as other regional countries, stay true to our cultural roots.

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Featured image adapted from PM Ismail Yaakob on Facebook.

Sudeshna Dhar

Sudeshna is a lover of all romcoms, especially Gone Girl (2014).

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