SINGAPORE - This year's Bulan Bahasa or Malay Language Month activities will include a series of online sessions to help participants, in particular non-Malays, learn more about Malay culture and heritage.
Jom Belajar, or Let's Learn, will explain topics like Malay food, clothing, wedding traditions and Hari Raya celebrations in English, and is one of several programmes organised by Wisma Geylang Serai (WGS) for the annual event.
The sessions will be held over video-conferencing platform Zoom once a month from September to December, with the first starting this Saturday (Sept 18).
Geylang Serai was historically a Malay settlement, and WGS is a civic and cultural centre that aims to celebrate its heritage and encourage bonding between the different races. It is one of several community partners hosting Bulan Bahasa activities.
WGS also hosted several performing arts workshops for children during the school holidays last week, and will launch a series of five books on the history of Geylang Serai later this month.
Speaking to reporters last Thursday, Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Faishal Ibrahim said the programmes aim to help young people get a better understanding of Malay culture.
"Although the proportion of our community that is bilingual remains high, efforts to preserve the language, culture and Malay literature should be continued, especially for the younger generation," he said.
While many Malay children are able to speak both English and their mother tongue, the proportion of Malay children entering Primary 1 who speak mostly English at home is similar to the other communities - at around 70 per cent.
At the launch of Bulan Bahasa on Sept 4, Bulan Bahasa chairman Rahayu Mahzam said: "Families may be using more English at home. However, this does not mean that the use of the Malay language is languishing. Many Malay families are effectively bilingual and do continue to use the Malay language at home, and we hope to strengthen this in future."
Ms Rahayu, who is Parliamentary Secretary for Communications and Information, as well as Health, added: "With the help of our community partners, we will continue to work towards a community that continues to see the value of the Malay language as part of their daily lives."
The other programmes include performances showcasing Malay poetry and dance, as well as workshops for children on traditional arts such as bangsawan. Bangsawan is a traditional art form that combines elements of poetry, theatre, dance and song into an operatic stage production.
Samudera Seni, one of the performances, is produced by local playwright Almahdi Al-Haj Ibrahim, better known as Nadiputra. He was recently recognised by the National Heritage Board with the Stewards of Intangible Cultural Heritage award for his contributions to Malay arts over the past 50 years.
Mr Almahdi said: "I hope both the Malay and non-Malay community in general get to know the Malay language and its usage better, and understand the different aspects of Malay culture."