Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has attempted to justify his use of Chinese in official ministerial statements with a Facebook post ironically written in Chinese after being accused by critics of undermining Malaysia’s national language – Bahasa Melayu.
On Sunday (Jun 24), Lim posted a purely Chinese statement on his Facebook page claiming that his use of the language was a show of support for the government’s recognition of multilingualism and globalisation.
Lim quoted Section 152 (1) of the Federal Constitution which states that no person is prohibited from using, teaching or learning other languages.
“In the spirit of the constitution, what is wrong with the distribution of press releases in Chinese or other languages?” he asked.
In response to accusations made by so-called racists, Lim said he would not bow down to them and would continue to publish statements by the Finance Ministry in Malay and English. Chinese translation would be included where necessary, he added.
He also hoped high-level government officials would get used to the change.
“The new Malaysia is an inclusive, respectful and diverse country. While safeguarding the status of Malay as the official language, we also need to master the use of other languages in order to increase our competitiveness.”
At time of writing, Lim’s post had garnered more than 7,800 reactions, 2,600 comments and 4,000 shares.
Despite his explanation, Facebook users have continued to throw shade at the minister for the bold move.
Even the managing director of Mydin hypermarket chain, Ameer Ali Mydin, took a jab at the minister, claiming the decision to use Chinese lacked logic and had created an unnecessary problem.
Many users accused Lim of backtracking on a statement that he made in May about identifying himself as a Malaysian and not Chinese.