DAP proposes a 1,000-programme 2004 International Mother Language Day celebrations on Feb. 21 next year to make a quantum leap to promote national consciousness and commitment to linguistic and cultural pluralism in Malaysia
- DAP forum on “Protecting Roots in Plural Malaysia”
by Lim Kit Siang
(Kuala Lumpur, Monday): Malaysia should celebrate the fifth International Mother Language Day (IMLD) on February 21, 2004 in a big way throughout the country.
Although Malaysia was one of the 28 countries which seconded the Bangladesh proposal which resulted in the proclamation of February 21 as the International Mother Language Day by the UNESCO General Conference in November 1999, this important date was not observed in Malaysia in the first three years.
Three organizations, Dong Jiao Zong and the DAP, observed the fourth International Mother Language Day on February 21 this year in two separate programmes – which is a poor reflection of the multi-lingual and multi-cultural diversity in Malaysia. UNESCO officials had been at great pains to remind the world community that multilingualism is the most accurate reflection of multiculturalism and that the destruction of the first will inevitably lead to the loss of the second.
In the fifth International Mother Language Day on February 21, 2004, Malaysians should celebrate it in a big way – not just by Dong Jiao Zong and DAP in Kuala Lumpur, but up and down the country by educational, linguistic and cultural organizations, civic groups, political parties, and even Federal and state governments.
In fact, Malaysians should celebrate the 5th International Mother Language Day next year not just with two programmes like this year but with at least a thousand programmes to make a quantum leap to promote national consciousness and commitment in linguistic and cultural pluralism in Malaysia.
The observance of the International Mother Language Day is not confined to the Chinese mother tongue, but to all mother-tongues to be found in Malaysia, including Malay, Tamil, Iban, Kadazan, Bidayuh and Orang Asli.
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Dong Jiao Zong, Lim Lian Geok Cultural Development Centre, the Tamil Research and Education Centre, and all organizations concerned about linguistic and cultural diversity in Malaysia should seriously consider, whether collectively or separately, to take the initiative to plan a grand celebration of the Fifth International Mother Language Day next February with at least a thousand celebration programmes – which will be a historic boost to the cause of linguistic and cultural pluralism in Malaysia as well as a major endeavour to protect the roots of the diverse ethnic groups which make up the 25 million Malaysian nation. With a thousand programmes, the International Mother Language Day celebrations could be stretched for a week or even for 10 days, and be a model for the rest of the world.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman