My friends and I visited the National Gallery Singapore recently. There was a skit going on that visitors could participate in about learning the national language, Malay.
My friends and I picked up a handful of useful conversational Malay phrases.
Learning Malay is fun and relatively easy, compared with other languages. It is one of the most user-friendly languages in the world today.
Malay was the lingua franca in Singapore during the colonial era and was subsequently declared the national language in 1959.
Considering the historical importance and significance of the Malay language, it should be made a compulsory teaching subject in all local primary schools. It should be the third language of all non-Malay Singaporean children.
For a start, the Education Ministry could consider introducing this as a non-examination subject. This proposed policy would not place undue stress on schoolchildren.
The learning of languages is always best carried out during childhood, when the mind is most receptive. Children should, however, be at liberty to cease learning Malay once they reach secondary school.
Since Malay is our national language, all Singaporeans, regardless of race and creed, must at least acquire a fundamental knowledge of this language.
Sadly, the only opportunities available for non-Malay Singaporeans to use Malay are during the singing of the National Anthem and in military commands during national service.
This needs to be corrected and we should have more opportunities to use our national language.
Teo Kok Seah