Malay Language Month aims to reach out to all

Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, who was the guest of honour at the event, penning a message of encouragement on a feedback board saying, "Beautiful expressions! Keep enjoying your learning."
Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, who was the guest of honour at the event, penning a message of encouragement on a feedback board saying, "Beautiful expressions! Keep enjoying your learning."ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

Activities for all, such as a traditional orchestra performance with sharing sessions in English

Special effort has been made for this year's Malay Language Month to ensure that both Malay and non-Malay speakers can appreciate the language and culture better.

Also known as Bulan Bahasa, the annual celebration was launched yesterday with two days of festivities at the National Museum of Singapore. The chairman of Bulan Bahasa, Jurong GRC MP Rahayu Mahzam, said there will be activities for all, such as a traditional Malay orchestra performance with sharing sessions in English and Malay today.

This is the first time the event, which runs till Oct 15, is held at the museum, which was chosen for its links to Singapore's past.

Museum visitors this weekend will be guided by 118 students from 60 schools, through exhibits and artefacts of importance to the Malay community, such as jewellery from Fort Canning and figures such as the first President, Mr Yusof Ishak.

Ms Rahayu said: "It is through language that we build kinship and connection to our roots, values, heritage and culture, preserving it for the young and generations to come."

Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, who was the guest of honour at the event, said this year's range of activities is "representative of how dynamic and alive the Malay language is in Singapore today".

"In diverse and multi-cultural Singapore, our Mother Tongues are pivotal in strengthening our ethnic roots, as well as our cultural and national identities," he said. "Bahasa Melayu is our national language, and the Malay culture is also very much an integral part of Singapore's heritage, and it is a social fabric we must hold together."

Activities are being held across the island, and range from concerts to singing competitions.

The Malay Language Council also appointed three new language ambassadors, chosen for their passion for language, culture and heritage. One of them, actress Siti Khalijah Zainal, said she hopes to teach and introduce the Malay language in different forms, such as through plays, to a wide audience.

She noted that many among the young can speak Malay, but automatically use English and forget how to write well in the language - diluting classic words, for instance.

"That's the beauty of the Malay language I hope to reintroduce: that something so simple can be so layered and elegant."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 04, 2016, with the headline 'Malay Language Month aims to reach out to all'. Print Edition | Subscribe