Crowds double at Malay Language Month

Mr Zaqy Mohamad, (second, left), chairman of the organising committee of Malay Language month and Mr Masagos Zulkifli, (right), chairman of the Malay Language Council, interacting with Putri Emily Muhammad Joehadi,7, (in light purple), Seri Emaryana
Mr Zaqy Mohamad, (second, left), chairman of the organising committee of Malay Language month and Mr Masagos Zulkifli, (right), chairman of the Malay Language Council, interacting with Putri Emily Muhammad Joehadi,7, (in light purple), Seri Emaryana Muhad Shahrin and Dewi Ayumi Fadzli (with hat) who performed at a appreciation dinner. The dinner was held for about 130 people who supported the Malay Language Month. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

SINGAPORE - The number of people attending Malay Language Month events doubled this year as members of the community chipped in by volunteering and organising activities.

About 21,600 people attended activities such as storytelling sessions, craft workshops and music performances last month, up from 10,800 a year ago.

Mr Zaqy Mohamad, chairman of the organising committee, said yesterday that many of the events "created buzz and interest".

"People used to think that it is a must to speak perfect Malay," he said. "The organisers want to change this mindset. Don't be afraid to use it everyday."

He was speaking to The Straits Times before an appreciation dinner at the Asian Civilisations Museum attended by about 130 who supported the Malay Language Month, or Bulan Bahasa.

The annual campaign, which aims to promote Malay culture and language, has been held since 1988.

Mr Zaqy, who is also MP of Chua Chu Kang GRC, said youth groups helped to organise activities which promoted public speaking and the use of Malay in everyday contexts.

Youth group 4PM organised a celebrity debate session to showcase creative thinking and spontaneous use of Malay.

Celebrities including radio disc jockey Zaza Ismail acted as different characters as they voiced opinions on the theme of social media.

Students from secondary schools and the National Institute of Education also volunteered as guides at the Asian Civilisations Museum, speaking in Malay and English to introduce artefacts to visitors.

Student guide Ms Iffah Mohamed Firman, 17, met a French tourist at the museum who could speak Malay.

"Knowing that foreigners wanted to learn my Mother Tongue made me happy," she said. "I felt inspired to improve my knowledge of the Malay language."