Religious leaders, language teachers and parents are important custodians of the Malay language, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli.
Speaking at the launch of the annual Malay Language Month at the Malay Heritage Centre yesterday, Mr Masagos urged the three groups to work together to preserve the language.
He said: "For parents, we must be confident that using our mother tongue at home will not decrease the ability to learn other subjects in school. The Malay language is also used for religious teaching. I would like to encourage our religious leaders to think about how to improve the use of the Malay language in our efforts to inculcate religious values as a pedagogy for religious teaching."
Mr Masagos added that he hopes all teachers will be able to inculcate in their students a love for the language.
He said: "It is through the Malay culture that our religion is coloured and... the Malay culture, the behaviour, the character of the Malay is best seen through the interpretation of Islam... It also prevents Islam from becoming interpreted as something which is very extreme, the way it is done in other places in the world."
Also, the influence from popular culture from the West could cause the community to lose its religious beliefs and values, said Mr Masagos. He said: "If we further neglect the love for the Malay culture, more people will be easily influenced by foreign ideals and values emulated by some in our community."
The Malay language month is organised by the Malay Language Council, and runs until Oct 15. The event features more than 100 programmes and activities to promote the Malay language.
IMPACT OF LANGUAGE ON ISLAM
It is through the Malay culture that our religion is coloured and... the Malay culture, the behaviour, the character of the Malay is best seen through the interpretation of Islam... It also prevents Islam from becoming interpreted as something which is very extreme, the way it is done in other places in the world.
'' MR MASAGOS ZULKIFLI, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, on how the Malay language can help efforts to inculcate religious values in the Malay community.
They include a poetry writing workshop, a drama competition and a dance performance based on Malay proverbs.
Meanwhile, the Tamil Language Council will provide funding to four groups it has selected, as part of efforts to promote the Tamil language in Singapore.
The council declined to reveal the amount involved but said it hopes to nurture talent in areas such as acting, hosting and singing.
The four arts groups are Athipathi International Theatre, Traditional Music Of Tanjore, Avant Theatre And Language, and 2Tango Dazzle.
Athipathi International Theatre artistic director Pugalenthii, who goes by only one name, said the group's work involves conducting free Tamil drama workshops for students, among other things.
"With this fund, we can now invite trainers from leading drama groups as well as experienced theatre actors and directors to come and train our actors in our troupe. We can also increase the number of people who can be trained," he said.
Ms Gowri Gokul, who runs Traditional Music of Tanjore, said her group focuses on South Indian Carnatic vocal training and performances.
The vocalist, who teaches the classical music style, said the group has used the funds from the Tamil Language Council to conduct a workshop on Tamil Carnatic music composers and their compositions. The workshop started earlier this month.
She said the funding helps to pay for the musicians as well as notes and handouts for participants.
"We hope to repeat this workshop, perhaps for a larger audience in the future," she said.