KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — Understanding between Malaysia and Indonesia is vital to enable the Malay language to be the official language of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Dewan Negara President Tan Sri Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said Wisma Putra played an important role to find a specific way to link the country’s objectives with that of its neighbours.

“Malaysia cannot regard Indonesia lightly as she is an ally in the greater struggle,” he said during the ASEAN Representatives’ Roundtable Session for the Advancement of Malay Language at Institutes of Higher Learning in ASEAN Countries here today.

He also suggested that Article 34 of the ASEAN Charter that states the use of English as the ASEAN working language be amended with the addition of Malay.

“We must do this through Wisma Putra and ASEAN diplomacy to amend it….but if it’s only Malay, maybe Indonesia will not agree and that’s why we need to negotiate.

“What’s important at this point is to include the idea of Malay-Indonesian language into (the ASEAN Charter),” he said.

Rais also suggested several short term and long term initiatives to enhancing the Malay language, including enriching local arts and culture, Malay world studies and to increase the number of Malay language teachers in universities abroad.

The roundtable session was organised by the Institute of Malay World and Civilisation (ATMA) Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) with the assistance of the Prime Minister’s Department and Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka and was held in conjunction with the Malay Language Internationalisation Symposium that is taking place till May 24.

The symposium was officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday.


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