Preserve Singapore's Malay heritage

In the early years following Singapore's independence, Malay was seen as a language that would help foster a common identity among the people of Singapore (Work to preserve Malay language, Masagos urges; Sept 10)

The National Language Month was launched in 1965 to promote the use of the Malay language and to raise competency in it.

Various programmes were organised, with the aim of teaching more about the Malay language and culture.

Regrettably today, I hear few non-Malay ministers or political office holders speaking our national language.

Some time ago, Professor Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, suggested that Singapore citizens, by and large, should pick up and speak our national language.

He said that it would help to reinforce the sense of common identity among the culturally diverse groups of Singaporeans.

We also need to preserve the Malay heritage in our country's history.

For example, pioneering Malay educational institutions Sang Nila Utama Secondary School and Tun Sri Lanang Secondary School - the first two Malay-medium secondary schools established here - are now closed and demolished.

I hope the Ministry of Education will consider naming new schools after them to remind us of the historical significance of these Malay institutions.

Sattar Bawany (Professor)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2017, with the headline 'Preserve Singapore's Malay heritage'. Print Edition | Subscribe