KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today said that Malaysian graduates and leaders must learn more than one language.
Anwar said that although he can’t accept Malaysians who can’t speak the Malay language, it does not mean that languages are a “zero-sum game” where one language has to lose to another.
“We want Bahasa Melayu but if can’t speak English, it won’t be good either... if it’s an ordinary person, then okay, but if the person has become a graduate, what else a leader, they must have fluency of a second language.
“Okay, if you can’t be fluent in English... then Arabic? French? Can as well,” he said during a town hall session at the Universiti Malaysia Alumni Centre here.
Anwar also said that Islamic and Malay cultures traditionally recognised various languages.
He used as an example the Malay legendary figure Hang Tuah, who he said according to the Malay epic Hikayat Hang Tuah — learned 11 languages including Malay, Arabic, Siamese, Chinese languages and the language of ancient Kalinga.
“What is the loss if Chinese children want to be fluent in Chinese languages, for me, there is no problem... learn.
“The government can give some facilities. What is the requirement? They must be fluent in Malay.
“If they want to learn Tamil or Chinese languages... (and) we want to become busybodies, angry, for what?” he added.