Anyone found guilty of using incorrect Bahasa Malaysia, including in advertisements online, may soon be fined up to RM1,000, should amendments to the National Language Act 1963 and Education Act 1996, be passed in the Parliament.
Chinese daily Nanyang Siang Pau, quoting a reliable but unnamed source, said the measure, enforced by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), has been agreed in principle by Putrajaya.
According to the source, the suggestion would be discussed by a special cabinet committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and should there be an agreement, the Education Ministry will table the amendments to enable DBP to enforce the fine.
When contacted by the Chinese daily, DBP director-general Abdul Adzis Abas said the government had suggested empowering DBP to take action against improper usage of Bahasa Malaysia.
The measure is to educate the public to use the national language, properly, anywhere, including on the Internet, to prevent the contamination of the language.
Abdul Adzis (photo) said even when DBP had the power to impose a fine, the agency would first advise and correct “broken” Bahasa Malaysia, without resorting to strong enforcement measures.
“Currently, DBP advises those who use improper Bahasa Malaysia on public notices and advertisements. We cannot take any action as advertisement permits are approved by local councils,” he said, adding that any inquiry on the proper usage of the national language can be directed to DBP.
On Nov 12, Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid revealed that his ministry will act as the secretariat for a cabinet committee on empowering Bahasa Malaysia usage, chaired by Zahid.